Writer: Annie Siddons
Director: Justin Audibert
Composer: Marcus Hamblett
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
“Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!” trills Eliza Doolitle in My Fair Lady. And it’s a feeling one can empathise with after watching Annie Siddons’Raymondo.
Siddons has created an epic narrative that fuses storytelling and music to share a surreal tale of two brothers locked in cellar by their mother and offered the chance of escape in the unlikely saviour of a pigeon.
It’s a promising start with Siddons setting the scene well but, sadly, that promising start soon fizzles out as the narrative becomes more labyrinthine. As the surrealism builds, the cast of eccentric characters expands and it begins to become a real test of memory to recall who’s who.
There are occasional interludes from Daniel Green, who takes time away from his live guitar accompaniment to give voice to younger brother Sparky but those interludes are few and far between, leaving Siddons in the main to give voice to the ballooning cast.
As twenty minutes spreads to thirty, forty, an hour, an hour and ten minutes Raymondo becomes less of an event and more of an endurance test for the audience. Lengthy monologue is a challenging form to keep an audience engaged and here there’s a feeling that the piece needs to lose around half of its 70-minute running time.
Siddons is clearly a skilled storyteller, conjuring up vivid images in her audience’s mind but, before we have time to savour the image she’s jumped onto another path, leaving us confused and exhausted. It’s a literary barrage that assaults the senses but, rather than inspire, it just distances the audience.
There is potential in Raymondo but whether that potential lies on stage is questionable. There’s a feeling that the story would work better in print or even as a radio play. As a stage piece it seems overlong, indulgent and overly complex.