Director: Tom Hodson
Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin
Having been plucked from the Manchester Fringe of 2016 and picked for the PUSH festival at Home. I’m Standing Next to You is highly topical, challenging why are we more disconnected from each other at a time when we are all constantly available via the internet/messaging/laptop/phones.
The show is a promenade piece although actually, it is a cattle market piece of staging; the audience hemmed into a space within the Gallery at HOME by partition walls, stood up for an hour as the three performers emerge among the crowd to tell their tales through soliloquy. This sometimes allowed for moments of great connection between performer and audience, and among the audience members as well, as we chuckled together at moments of self-recognition.
This show’s themes are bleak – loneliness, social anxiety, fear of missing out, inability to ask for help, social media pretense – and yet each of the actors find moments of levity in their delivery, moments of humanity and humour which attempt to lighten the mood. Lucy Hilton-Jones’ woeful tales of online dating could be out of a rom-com as she highlighted our inability to connect in person anymore, while Jennifer Campbell’s portrayal of a new mother who has lost her identity and her place in the world will remind you of someone you know, and finally Matthew Foray’s desperation at not having the life he intended was delivered brilliantly.
The strong performances, a strong script, and a promenade approach did not quite make up for the unrelenting misery of it all, and although you can’t deny the home truths spoken by the characters, it could feel lonely as an audience member listening to these monologues as each character broke down. The disconnected nature of the characters, taking it in turns to tell a chunk of their monologue, while on-the-nose was slightly repetitive and would have been more engaging within an actual site-specific location i.e. a tram or a bar.
From the Mill Theatre should be commended for tackling a prominent daily aspect of our lives and an issue which people don’t like to talk about.
Reviewed on 17 January, 2016 | Image: Contributed