Writer: Emma Minihan
Directors: Jonathan Woodhouse &Rachael Owens
Reviewer: Lauren Kilgannon
Life in a Sketchbook takes us through a series of sketches, which at first appear as everyday and familiar as the worn red carpet underfoot but quickly surpass into comic absurdity. Encompass and Pen &Rose productions present 6 scenes, ‘set in the confines of our modern society’, which rewrite and re-examine the every day and transcend into ‘hyper-reality.’ The Interview literally turns the tables on the interview process, with Jonathan Woodhouse’s candidate making Sir Alan’s most precocious apprentice appear modest and well-mannered, while The Last Table in the cafeteria brings out Andrew Miller’s and Zuri Warren’s primal need to mark territory, while verbally jousting the pros and cons of coffee vs juice.
Sian Gordon plays The Dreamer trying to recall the muscle memory of flying, while looking like she’s created a new yogic stance and Marcella Carelli plays a fantastically pushy/persuasive estate agent in a very humorous House Hunt. The Lunch Break explores the pressures of our time poor lives as a frazzled Francesca Amoroso declares she has no time for a romantic break, break-up or lunch-break, as she is pestered by a persistent PA, Liam Elvish, and serenaded by a loveable Robert Wallis, before a dust shrouded Owen Collins and Freya Parsons look to make the Discovery channel into reality, if they could just make it off The Sofa.
The results have comic moments, notably in The House Hunt, and The Lunch Break but others, like The Interview, and The Last Table feel overacted and harder to engage with. The montage of separate scenes is a great concept, which has worked brilliantly for previous productions, like Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information, although the sketchbook linking scenes were unnecessary. The main challenge of this piece is linking poignancy and humour. While I can see how the scenes relate to some of the questions and challenges of modern life, as the humour lies in the exaggerated caricatures, it is difficult for the audience to truly relate to the scenes and characters, or really ‘see ourselves within the sketchbook’. That said, there are a number of great one-liners, some outrageous characters and a dose of humour, which makes the piece pleasantly watchable.