Writer and Director: Luke Adamson
Reviewer: Scott Stait
Luke Adamson’s Found was first produced by Black Coffee Theatre in the North East, alongside upcoming venues ARC Stockton, the Alnwick Playhouse and Northern Stage back in 2013. Why it has taken so long to appear in the heart of London’s fringe theatre scene is a travesty. It is also a travesty that only the handful of people that littered the 50-seat Hope Theatre last night were able to witness the fantastic piece of theatre on display there.
Mark, an ordinary guy with an ordinary job, finds an unconscious man on a beach one day, and in an act of human kindness stays with him until the paramedics have deemed him well, and allows him to stay on his sofa. The man, who Mark affectionately names Jack, seems to still be in shock from the incident, and remains muted to other characters for the duration of the play. As events unfold, we find that Mark’s one act of kindness, and Jack’s gentle presence, will spin a thread of actions that affect every aspect of his life from the tragic to the heartwarming.
Adamson’s script is watertight and highly affecting, and the same can be said of his direction. The episodic nature of the play feels almost like watching a television series, and the expertly crafted characters carry the narrative and ensure that you truly empathise with everyone on stage. As much as good writing can carry a production, without a coherent cast, cracks can begin to show. Thankfully this company of five embody the characters perfectly, and add to the true brilliance of the production.
Jack Harding plays a warm, heartfelt Mark whose easy nature and kind temperament ensures the audience trusts in him completely. Joseph Lindoe gives a great performance as the silent Jack, only speaking aloud when alone, and even then the words are not his own. His overbearing episodes are uncomfortable and enthralling, and enhance his mystique. Of the gentlemen in the cast, however, it is Robert Saunders’ Brian that shines brightest. From his tragic journey of rejections to his sharp-tongued wit, to belting out an 80s rock classic, Saunders excels as Mark’s gay neighbour and friend, a lost soul trying to connect amid personal sorrow and torment.
Elizabeth Hope gives an assured performance as Kate, a colleague who Mark has had his eye on for some time. The comedic chemistry between the two as their 21st century romance plays out is well constructed and Kate’s recognition of Jack later in the piece further aids to pique our curiosity at his situation. Nina Bright, billed as Assistant Director as well, plays the awkward ex-girlfriend Hayley brilliantly; just returned after fours years in Australia, expecting everything to be the same, and discovering that in fact that nothing is. Despite her minimal stage time, our affinity with the characters by this point means we are invested in Hayley and are satisfied by the open-ended questions posed by the close of the play.
There was a moment in the production where the audience, this handful of people from different walks of life, who had all seated themselves rather severely, perhaps not expecting very much, all relaxed into the mood of the room. I can’t put my finger on where it was, but a solidarity of warmth ran through the studio space that spread a smile on every face in the theatre– it was lovely to witness and be aware of it.
Found is a breath of fresh air among the noise of fringe theatre, and this reviewer will certainly be seeking out Black Coffee Theatre’s next production, One Last Waltz, as it embarks on a tour this autumn.
Runs until 11th April