‘Our Walk Through the World’ is a collection of 6 sharply written, short plays by Ross Howard that highlight some of the absurdities of modern life. First performed at the Old Red Lion in 2013, this new production by It’s Fespian Init Productions successfully brings out both the comedy and the pathos of these entertaining and thought-provoking bite-sized stories.
This is It’s Fespian Init’s launch production and they have started with a bang (a good bang – think fireworks rather than car exhausts). The cast – Katharine Hardman, James Heatlie, Kara Stanley, Alicia Novak, Eduardo “Dido” Milano and Christian Sokolov – play multiple different characters with a wonderful fluidity and skill.
As with all assortments, I can’t help having favourites. So which is my purple Quality Street? That’d have to be a 3-way fight between Tilly (an Introduction), ‘Rules of Assortment’ and ‘Relinquish’. These felt like the most perfectly polished and pitched stories of the night. Katharine Hardman is fabulously funny and moving as Tilly, a young woman auditioning to be a surrogate mother. She wouldn’t be the obvious choice to pick, is all I’ll say.
Meanwhile, maybe because I’ve worked in too many offices, the absurdities of ‘Rules of Assortment’ was disturbingly relatable for me. I really enjoyed the shifting power dynamics between James Heatlie, Kara Stanley and Alicia Novak. There was a great chemistry to the piece.
The comic pathos of ‘Relinquish’ really landed with me too. A mother meets the son she put up for adoption for the first time, but at his insistence they are both wearing paper bags over their heads. There is a wonderful sensitivity to the piece, that allows the poignancy of the situation to shine through despite the awkward head gear.
While these might be my personal favourites, the other 3 short plays were also entertaining and engaging, if not quite as finely tuned. Katharine Hardman’s Frisky in Frisky & The Panda Man, is comedy gold and left me craving celery (panic not, the craving went away), but her final speech flew by before I could give it the attention it deserved. ‘Our Prospects for the Coming Season’ and ‘The Viewing’ were both funny and disturbing, although more space could have been given to allow the sadness (Our Prospects), and the darkness and sense of dread (The Viewing) to fully land.
These are, however, small points within an overall fabulous production. As a rule of thumb, if I’m being annoying and giving notes, it’s because I love a show and believe in its future life.
I understand, from chatting to a certain parent on the door, that this is Christian Sokolov’s first time as a director. I’d never have guessed, as there is a clarity of vision running across the 6 plays that I’d expect from a seasoned pro.
I wish I could tell you to go see ‘Our Walk Through The World’ but I saw it on closing night. However, should I hear on the grapevine that this production is popping up elsewhere, I’ll let you know as it is well worth checking out.