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Eunoia (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Eunoia

Society: Chickenshed

Venue: Chickenshed Theatre – Studio. Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE

Credits: Various – Chickenshed’s season of new writing


3 stars

Eunoia – a Greek word meaning beautiful thinking – is the name of Chickenshed Theatre’s 2022 new-writing festival. Nine duologues and monologues have been selected for professionally directed performance in two separate evenings during the ten-day season. I saw group 2 – in the simple intimacy of Chickenshed’s upstairs studio theatre.

The most striking of the four pieces came last in Answer the Call by Ashley Driver who also directs. I knew nothing whatever about the 1,500 men from the West Indies who volunteered their services in the First World War – willingly giving their all for their colonial “masters”.  Some of them died of disease before they reached the front. Nathaniel Leigertwood and Demar Lambert play two such men, bantering in their rich, golden accents and wondering just how equal they are and, if they’re not, what they could or should do about it. Then one on them becomes ill. The questions remain topical and this powerful, immaculately written and thoughtfully acted fifteen minutes had me thinking hard about the issues all the way home.

Before that we had Sara Chernaik’s Just Imagine, a monologue which invites us to think about immigration, identity and the personal stories which underpin us all. “Come. Listen to my Story” is the refrain as Brahms’s German Requiem fades away in the background.

I didn’t personally like Never Have I Ever, the opening duologue (by Sophie White) which featured two people in an untidy bedroom, one very drunk and the other very sober, gay and distressed. Stevie Shannon’s drunk voice work is, however, well studied although I missed some of what she said.

Body awareness amongst men is an interesting topic and Astonishing Light by Cathy Jansen-Ridings explores it with both horror and humour. Having your body surgically altered is not, ultimately, going to make you happier – which is what the rather annoying Gabe tries to make Benedict see when they meet in a Cosmetic Surgery waiting room.

It’s an uneven evening but it certainly offers some accomplished acting and plenty to reflect on.

 First published by Sardines:
Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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