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Ben Target: LORENZO – Edinburgh Fringe 2023, Summerhall

Reviewer: Tom Ralphs

Writer: Ben Target

Director: Adam Brace

This one person show at the Anatomy Room in Summerhall is a testament to the art of storytelling, to taking the threads of lives and weaving them together into something more significant than they may appear, and to the life of a man called Lorenzo Wong. It is also a piece of writing and performance that shows that with a great story and a great performer, you can get away with little more than a carpentry table, a dysfunctional shredder and a drinks can for set and props.

The subject of the play was writer/performer Ben Target’s sort of uncle. Not actually a family member Wong was an architect who came to the UK from Hong Kong and lived and worked with Target’s parents and grandparents in a large family house in Chelsea. After not having seen Lorenzo for around 15 years, Target suddenly found himself as his live-in carer shortly before the start of the second lockdown.

Target’s account of how he came to be in this role and his reintroduction to Lorenzo on the old man’s front doorstep display a stand-up ability to take melancholy and decline and turn them into a vividly comic reality that captures the humanity, tragedy and humour of life with a seeming ease. However, he has far too much love and respect for Lorenzo to reduce his life to a series of vignettes on caring for someone in terminal decline. Instead Target chooses to celebrate his uncle, recalling the times they spent together when he was younger, showing the inspiration he had on his life, and capturing the essence of Lorenzo at his finest.

This is interspersed with moments from their lockdown life as routines are made, altered and remade, and Target searches for things that the two men can do and see at home to pass the time away, now that Lorenzo is no longer the person he once was. The UKs conflicted attitude towards care of the elderly and end of life support is highlighted by the anonymous, professional and impersonal treatment Lorenzo receives from the state and the painstaking patience and care he gets from a man who is putting the rest of his life on hold to look after him.

An extra poignancy is added to the production by the death of the director Adam Brace in April this year. The show that Target has completed and brought to the stage after his death is a beautiful tribute to the life, work and talent of both Brace and Lorenzo.

Runs until 27 August (not 14th, 21st) 2023 | Image: Contributed

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A beautiful tribute

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