We Were Having A Perfectly Nice Time – Omnibus Theatre, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Pedro Leandro

Director: Evan Lordan

It’s heartening to see another theatre open its doors, and this short play running at the Clapham’s Omnibus theatre certainly has lots of potential. But perhaps at only 25 minutes long, it’s not quite ready to hop on the bus for.

In fact, it’s probably shorter than 25 minutes as the first five minutes are of silence broken only by some pointless postmodern posturing by writer Pedro who stands up in the audience, removing his mask, to remind us that what we are seeing is a play. Whether this person is Pedro Leandro, or someone playing Pedro Leandro remains unclear.

The two women who sit on stage finally begin talking, but they speak so quickly, in such deadpan voices that it’s hard to keep up. Ideas about love and romance, bitter and pithy, flash by so rapidly that they are almost impossible to process. Gradually it becomes clear that they are flatmates, and that one of them is in love with the other. That’s a shame, says the beloved, as ‘we were having a perfectly nice time’.

They bicker in the same monotonal voices about love and sex, and both are world-weary cynics. The dialogue would be crushing if it weren’t for the excellent performances of the two actors who hardly miss a beat. Stephanie Booth plays the person who has, despite her best intentions, fallen in love, but she still seems crueler in her jibes. Hannah Livingstone seems the more jaded of the two, her voice dejected and flat. They are quite the pair, but 25 minutes with them is enough.

With the heating whacked up high, and the show playing in the stuffy smaller auditorium, you wouldn’t want to be in the performance space any longer than 25 minutes, to be frank. And how is it that singing is still discouraged in churches when actors can shout from the stage two metres from the front row? With the show only playing on Fridays and Saturdays perhaps this gives the Omnibus time to work on the space a little more.

Runs until 24 October 2020

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