This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com
Shakespeares’ words can be called upon to relate to any occasion or situation: life, love, happiness, sorrow and so on. Lowri Amies, an actor, here refers to the Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, her favourite play, as a prelude to her one-hour monologue exploring her emotional crises following the losses of loved ones. “All the world’s a stage…” recites 26-year-old Amies telling of the exits of her grandfather, mother and grandmother in a short space of time. Shakespeare teaches us that the ageing and dying processes are natural, and she finds solace in his words as she deals with emotions of grief, helplessness and guilt (“the most painful companion to death”). She feels like an actor cast in the wrong play, but, if words are now cathartic, they had once formed a wall between her and her mother, an alternative that could be turned to when there seemed a need to suppress true feelings. Amies’ factual accounts of her losses are literate and engaging, merging seamlessly with appropriate extracts from Shakespeare. There are brief bursts of passion when she becomes a Shakespearean character, but, otherwise, her delivery is precise and measured, lacking in a natural style that would generate an emotional connection between her and the audience. As there are few visual elements in director Anna Marsland’s production, we can close our eyes and the experience becomes similar to listening to a well-written, well-recited audio book. Occasionally, Amies opens one of several small boxes scattered around the stage, revealing mementos from the past, symbols of her family’s Welsh heritage, treasured gifts, reminders of a shared fondness for Colin Firth. However, it is words that matter most and Amies confesses that she has used the words of others to avoid finding her own. Therein lies a paradox that undermines her work. It is only the writer/performer’s own words that can fully express her inner feelings and, when relying on Shakespeare, she cuts herself off emotionally from the audience. Sometimes she seems like a remote figure even in this very small room and, as a result, this is a performance that is accomplished, but strangely unmoving.
Performance date: 16 May 2016