Review: (No) Leaves On My Precious Selfit
Image: King's Head Theatre
The show takes the audience through the mind and daily life of an emerging actor.
It explores the fascinating touch of madness a career in performing arts often offers, as well as its challenges and pitfalls.
Beautifully moving between physical theatre, musical theatre and spoken word pieces, the show offers a light-hearted but deep and thought-provoking night of entertainment.
Kate Fabray is a London-based actor with stage and screen credits.
After graduating in BA (Hons) Theatre Studies and completing an internship at The Hackney Empire Theatre, she wrote a short film called 'The Allure de Moi', directed by Dan Pickard, in which she also played the lead.
The film opened to great reviews, and was highly rated by the audience.
'(No) Leaves On My Precious Self' is her debut in playwriting, and as a theatre director.
Those who choose a career on the stage face a constant battle to avoid becoming totally despondent, or even throwing in the towel and ditching their theatrical ambitions.
That's probably especially true for performers at the start of their theatrical journey, just trying to make their mark in the ruthless entertainment industry.
The ordeal by audition is a gruelling, time-consuming process - preceded by on-going rehearsal to sharpen skills - which can, more often than not, be terminated by the cruel finality of rejection.
In her debut work as a playwright, Kate Fabray delivers insights into the highs and lows in the life of an emerging actor, whose daily life is dominated by the regular grind of tramping the streets from one audition to another.
It's a process, we learn, that leaves one's confidence on the floor, or in the bushes, and conjures-up feelings of dire emptiness and toxic self-loathing.
At the auditions, we find her simply a number, one among numerous, near identical actors who all appear - driven by her own self doubt - to have more to offer than her.
The basic intention of conveying the ups and downs of life as an eager young actor anxious to acquire stage time, has obvious merits and appeal.
But even though she makes lucid and relevant points about the nature of the entertainment industry, too much of Ms Fabray's play is rather bland, uni-dimensional verbal description.
What she needed to do was demonstrate her feelings of rage, sadness, self-loathing and other emotions which no doubt bubble to the surface during the course of a life spent trying to persuade others of her talent.
Ms Fabray intersperses her account with songs she's performing at auditions and that aptly provides for suitable gear-shifts in the overall narrative.
And she selects an appropriate range of songs - including the hauntingly beautiful Maybe This Time, from Cabaret.
However, Ms Fabray's singing is uneven and unimpressive.
Of course, given the audition setting, the songs could have provided some hilarious comedy, perhaps augmented with some off-beat characterisation.
This play, though, never seizes on the humour that the situations obviously offer in abundance, and which could have been contrasted with the resulting heartache of continual rejection.
In a sense, of course, Ms Fabray has found an antidote to the harsh theatrical selection process - if you can't secure a part from auditions, then why not put on your own play?
That seems a perfectly acceptable strategy.
But though she latches on to an intriguing theme, Ms Fabray's play as it stands lacks emotional and dramatic veracity, as well as some much-needed comic vitality to set it, like successful actors at auditions, above the rest of the pack.
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