Review: Little Echoes

4 star rating
Disparate individual paths cross in Tom Powell's gripping chiller, ably directed by Stephen Bailey, that relentlessly draws you in to the unsavoury and seamier side of life.
Little Echoes at the Hope Theatre

Image: Hope Theatre


Theatre: Hope Theatre

Closes here: Saturday 9 March 2019

Author:
Tom Powell

Composer:
David Denyer

Director:
Stephen Bailey

Cast:

Shajenthran - Mikhael DeVille

Danielle - Maisie Preston

June - Ciara Pouncett


Synopsis


"He looked the same as anyone else.


Any of the other ones who come in.


White boys.


So I didn't clock anything different, cos there wasn't anything different.


How was I meant to know?"


Shajenthran's brother has had acid thrown in his face and Shaj is out for revenge.


Danielle's teenage crush on a pop idol develops into an illicit relationship, 'professional mentoring' becoming something much darker.


June has spent twenty years serving the private needs of the super wealthy, but her new assignments confront her with the questions she's spent a lifetime running from.


When their paths cross it is not something any of them will forget.


Filled with love, coercion, loneliness and obsession, Little Echoes takes you through the city as you've never seen it before.


A city of deep shadows, darker intentions, and where anything can change in the night …


Background


Little Echoes was written by Tom Powell, winner of the OTR National Radio Drama Award, Footlights' Harry Porter Prize, and shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers Award and directed by Stephen Bailey (European Theatre Convention Scholar 2018).


Produced by Pentire Street Productions (Winner of The Innovation Award for 'Rubber', VAULT Festival 2018)


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 21 February 2019
Review star rating image

On one level, Tom Powell's Little Echoes is a little frustrating.


That's almost entirely due to the fact that we hear three different, individual stories from three characters whose very different lives don't seem connected.


These three people apparently have little - if anything - in common, and would be unlikely to meet under normal circumstances, except in passing on the street.


There's no dialogue between them - and relatively little dialogue between each individual and other, unseen, characters with whom they interact.


What writer Tom Powell does is to give us snatches of narrative delivered by each of the characters in turn, and that is the basic format for the duration of his eerily chilling play.


The sense of frustration builds because we can't see exactly how the lives of these three disparate characters are eventually going to collide - but it's all in the best traditions of suspense.


And Tom Powell keeps us guessing almost until the rather macabre end of his cleverly-written work - even if there are some hints along the way.


Little Echoes has many of the hallmarks of a radio play.


That's hardly surprising, perhaps, since the author has already won a radio drama award, but it may leave some people questioning whether this play would be more appropriately delivered over the airwaves.


Certainly it could work well on radio, but Stephen Bailey's capable direction manages to add significantly to the dark dynamics of the piece to make for an intriguing stage play that relentlessly draws you in to both characters and events.


That said, even Mr Bailey's direction has the flavour of a radio play - with a soundscape (augmented by atmospheric compositions from David Denyer) that is sometimes continual and where some voices are delivered using microphones.


The nature of this piece demands that I keep tight-lipped about how things eventually unravel, but there's a grimly sinister feel to the outcome and the entire play.


If you've stopped-off to read the synopsis, you'll know the basic background about each of the characters (if not, just pop back and have a look as I'm not going to regurgitate here).


Shajenthran and Danielle are clearly looking for something - or someone.


And, even if she makes shed loads of money from her clients, there's also a clear sense that June is also looking for something more from life than being merely the highly-paid servant of the well-off.


Repeatedly taking turns to deliver the next piece of narrative and then stepping back into the shadows, the actors here all turn-in alluring and well-executed performances.


Maisie Preston's Danielle provides one of the rare moments of humour as she demonstrates her lack of singing ability.


But Ms Preston also makes a highly believable and disquieting transition from bubbly teen, desperate to do almost anything to be singled-out as consort for a famous musician, to anxious innocent caught-up in a malignant plan.


Mikhael DeVille's Shajenthran is also desperate, clutching at straws in his search for the person who threw acid in his brother's face, and inadvertently finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Ciara Pouncett provides the most complex of the three characters as June, a kind of high-class gofer faced with moral dilemmas about just how far she will go in doing her clients' biddings.


Yes, Little Echoes does evoke a sense of frustration, but it also proves entirely gripping, even if the eventual outcome illuminates a rather unsavoury and seamier side of life.



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