Albatross – The Playground Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Isley Lynn

Director: Jessica Edwards

Apprentice Kit at Noodle Soup Tattoo has a request from rough sleeper Jodie. An albatross around her neck; the connotations are that something heavy and inescapable is weighing on her for life. Uncomfortable with the choice of design, Kit doesn’t want to get involved, but of all people they know that getting inked isn’t the only decision that will stay with you forever. This clever play full of interweaving characters and stories is an amalgamation of decisions and choices, some of which have impacts that last forever.

Writer Isley Lynn does an incredible job ensuring that the audience remains gripped to this group of interconnecting stories. Each character is so likeable and their background so intriguing that having them each only briefly feature with a spotlight on their story just isn’t enough. This narrative would be a great pilot episode of a TV show presenting each of their tales more in depth, but as it stands, having them star within this brilliant play is a great starting point.

The actors do Lynn’s script justice, each of them impressively talented in portraying their roles. Every character is complex and varied, redeemable with their manner and core personalities. The interactions are all very charged, conflict brewing within every awkward rebuttal or approach. While the audience visibly cringes at some of the more embarrassing conversations, it’s a credit to the actors for making it so believable.

Initially the synopsis leads the audience to believe that this story is solely between Kit, played by Emily Pemberton, and Jodie, played by Sarel Madziya, but while they are at the heart of the story to set the tone, there’s much more to Albatross. Additional characters played by Nemide May, Loussin-Torah Pilikian, Aaron Douglas and Samarge Hamilton all have their time under the limelight with varying plotlines. Whether it’s exes, colleagues or a new romance, the imbalances of power are yet another layer to an already well-crafted script. There are moments of humour, shock and frustration, but the key underlying theme is choices.

The set and costumes from Catherine Morgan are simplistic yet stylised, working well as a slightly changeable background for each scene. The layering of each story and interaction is intricately woven together seamlessly, with director Jessica Edwards keeping the well-paced tensely curious atmosphere running throughout.

These are fantastic stories with a fantastic cast and if there’s one choice you make, it should be to catch this performance before the end of its run.

Runs until 6 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Intricately layered

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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