Hopeless ****

theSpace, Jury’s Inn (Venue 260)

Theatre (Spoken Word, Comedy)

Aug 10-12, 14-19, 21-26

(times vary)

Leyla Josephine does not want to start the show. She is hiding underneath an enormous grey sleeping bag. An exasperated technician calls from the back of the room, reminding Leyla that the audience paid to see her. Leyla eventually gives in, standing with the sleeping bag draped over her head, hair bedraggled, feeling so desperately sad and yet still needing to do something, anything, just to keep going.

 

These small moments of personality are what sets “Hopeless” apart. The Glasgow resident poet offers a rare taste of theatrical creativity in her debut fringe show. “Hopeless” is a show rooted in poetry, but one that fully embraces theatricality as a complementing medium. Music, lightning, blocking, and character all coincide within “Hopeless” to tell a deeply personal story, set on the world’s stage.

 

“Hopeless” begins, as noted, in bed. Leyla is watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians while eating an entire mint vienetta. She is sad, tired, and heartbroken. She wishes she was a big boy, with a shiny suit and a nihilistic joy. She can’t do it. She remembers working in a refugee camp in Greece, and how her father walked over fifty miles to make a better life for her family. She is trying to find something to hope for.

 

Leyla is able to fill “Hopeless” with her astounding theatrical presence. She is funny and poignant, angry and entreating, at each point understanding where she is taking her audience. There are emotional moments that do not land quite as expected, but Leyla manages these difficulties with an easy confidence. In fact, it is the quieter instances in which Leyla shines; the silent sequence in which Leyla gleefully looks up from The Day After Tomorrow on her phone while munching popcorn was a particular highlight.

 

“Hopeless” is an exceptional debut from an already brightly burning UK star. Already a force of stage, theatre, and screen, you should race to say ‘I saw Leyla Josephine first.’

 

Freddie Alexander