Review: A GENEROUS LOVER ****

THEATRE

A GENEROUS LOVER

Summerhall (Venue 26 ) 16.10

August 3 to 26 (not 13, 20 )

**** Four Stars

This is an extremely absorbing and impressive one-person performance by La JohnJoseph, who also wrote and devised the work. It is directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, with an original score by Helen Noir.

Lover Orpheus has increasing problems, and finds it more and more difficult to cope with and remain in touch with reality. Manic behaviour becomes increasingly troubling, and a week’s stay in a mental institution becomes required, which expands to three months. We follow the performer through many visits to Orpheus, we follow his despair and his great need for freedom, plus we get to know a number of his fellow sufferers.

La JohnJoseph has based this show on personal experience of having this happen to a loved one, and we feel closely involved with each stage of the performance. Many characters within the institution come to life, some whose company we enjoy, and there is a good deal of humour. Mythical personae occur, as do literary and musical figures from Dante to Paul Simon. These references add depth to the experience, but what is also captivating is the performer’s commitment to the situation. All involved would be glad to have it end, yet it has to be endured, and thus to enter into it fully, to humanise it as far as possible, is to find a way through.

There is music and song, and La JohnJoseph intensifies the atmosphere with rich and strongly felt singing.

This is a show to be savoured, to be travelled with to the end of the journey, and then to realise that the journey has been really special.

Tony Challis