GAPS – The Space, London

Reviewer: Nilgün Yusuf

Writer: Sam Morris

Any traveller on the London Underground will be familiar with the words, Mind the Gap. These three words are the jumping off point, narratively and creatively for GAPS, the one-man play written and performed by Sam Morris except this ‘gap’ has multiple meanings. There’s the gap between public and private; alienation and belonging, feeling okay and not feeling okay.

It starts with a crazy dash for Passenger – he has no name – to catch the train. Then a journey, not just to the imagined destination of Buckminster, but a ride to his past, a place of happier times but also unresolved conflict. Restless thoughts hijack his mind, one full of fears, hopes and dreams. Passenger seems plagued by struggles with masculine identity, repressed sexuality and general feelings of worthlessness and insignificance. But there is light in the dark too with amusing observations of fellow travellers: narcissistic jock, bacon sandwich man, sexy gunslinger. All these narrative elements, fragmented and seemingly random, are expressed through mime, dance, and puppetry in this hour-long exercise in physical theatre.

Passenger occupies space in the physical world but lives largely in his own head. We know this because of the voice-overs and projected text, which are used excessively as devices. While the text makes clear Passenger’s inner thoughts (alongside the conversations of others) it also takes the audience out of the moment and creates conflicting messages about where to look (performer or text?) Sometimes, there’s too much play-splaining, such as telling us emotions feel heavy and how puppets are used in different contexts including therapy. When the body is utilised so expressively, simply, and silently, it seems a shame to then overload story and meaning into the written text, like being given the answers to what could have been an intriguing puzzle.

The physical experience of tube travel is recreated with juddering movement, flickering lights and background sounds. The different mental states from cold carriage light to rainbow-coloured night club reverie are atmospherically recreated through effective lighting design by Anastasia Metreveli. Sam Morris gives an energetic and committed performance as Passenger and draws attention to the serious subject of how isolation and lack of connection can affect mental health.

In between amusing observations of the other passengers is tender and raw emotion that sometimes feels like gazing into a raw wound. GAPS might go some way to addressing the gaps in our awareness when it comes to the silent struggles of strangers.

Runs until 12 July 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Like gazing into a raw wound.

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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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