Body 115 – Hope Theatre, London

Reviewer: Lisamarie Lamb

Writer: Jane Noble

Director: Justin Butcher

Jan Noble’s Body 115 is a powerful one-man poetry performance that takes audiences on a journey of
discovery and recovery, exploring themes of decay, gentrification, rebellion, and the need to escape. The play
is an explicit homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy, with “Body 115” – the long-unidentified victim of the 1987 Kings Cross Station fire – acting as guide through the rain-washed streets of London, Calais, Paris, and Milan.

Noble’s poetry is both beautiful and haunting, evoking emotions and images that play with how we might
think of the world. The ghost of Body 115 wants the narrator to experience so much more from life, and yet
the poet himself is afraid. He’s afraid of yet more loss (we learn about his failed relationships and missed
opportunities) and he’s afraid of himself to some extent too. By the end, the poet has gone on a voyage of
discovery with Body 115 who, even as bones waiting to be claimed, is able to experience more life than
anyone else.

If there is one flaw to be found in Body 115, it’s that the poetry can be hard to decipher at times. A story is
being told, but there are tangents and ideas flaring up out of nowhere, and they can take you by surprise. Yet
despite this, the words and the rhythms are beautiful, even if some of their meaning is lost.

To make up for this, Noble’s performance is captivating, with his masterful delivery capturing the emotional
depth and nuance of each line with precision and authenticity. The production showcases the potential of
poetry in theatre, with Noble’s poetry creating an immersive experience that draws the audience into the
story and its themes. This is a one-man, one-hour theatrically performed epic poem, and not a word was out
of place, not an action uncalled for. Noble’s delivery combined with Justin Butcher’s direction make this
something you simply can’t look away from – and you wouldn’t want to. Body 115 is a captivating one-man
show that seamlessly blends poetry and theatre to take audiences on an unforgettable journey through loss
and discovery.

Runs until 13 May 2023.

The Reviews Hub Score:

A beautiful journey through loss and discovery.

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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