Review: Lullabies For The Lost
Image: Old Red Lion Theatre
Cast and creatives
Helen Bang - Sarah
Rosalind Blessed - Robin
Kate Tydman - Nerys
Liam Mulvey - Tim
Nick Murphy - Jez
Chris Porter - Larry
Chris Pybus - Andy
Duncan Wilkins - Ash
“We all have dirty laundry - I say stick it out on the lawn to compare and contrast”
Eight souls come together in their self-created limbo to tell their secrets as they desperately try to escape.
'Lullabies' looks at the struggles of modern mental health, exploring depression, social anxiety, childlessness, miscarriage, hoarding and eating disorders.
BUT, lullabies remains full of humour, understanding and ultimately hope.
Of course there is always a helping paw to hold when things become difficult.
Note: this play is one half of Rosalind Blessed's season of plays at the Old Red Lion, playing in rep.
This production is one of two plays written by Rosalind Blessed that are playing in tandem during January at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington.
The other play in the schedule is called The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People - a study of relationship breakdown and associated abuse.
The connection between the two plays lies in the arena of mental health, though there's wide-ranging diversity in terms of the issues covered in totality.
Chris Porter (Larry) and cast, photo courtesy Adam Trigg
A substantial and talented acting team of eight take to the stage in this play, with Hildegard Neil additionally appearing in a rather syrupy final video sequence that seems intended to provide a hopeful conclusion.
Lullabies For The Lost is really a series of stand-alone monologues collated in the synthetic contrivance of an artificial world or limbo in which the characters collectively exist and can interact.
Though the individual accounts of struggles with various forms of mental health problems are compellingly acted and moving, the interactions between the characters in their artificial setting prove vapid and rather tediously forced.
I think I can, however, detect a worthy strategy and considerable integrity behind Rosalind Blessed's work.
Her aim seems to be to acknowledge the wide-ranging and disparate nature of mental health issues and to show that these can affect a multitude of sufferers from differing backgrounds.
She also makes a practical connection between them - namely that they feel isolated in their suffering and, in many cases, are the victims of their own thoughts which prevent them from escaping what appear to be intractable problems.
But the endeavour as a whole is blighted by being almost overwhelmingly long, bisected by an unnecessary interval (had the play been briefer) which in sum blunted the poignant edge from the sad stories we hear.
The salient points could easily have been made more effectively with far fewer stories and thus more powerful too.
The final video sequence also proved problematic with a sage-like character offering somewhat mawkish words of wisdom in an authoritative and meaningful manner.
However, the implications of these final words - which certainly contain elements of truth - seemed to deny the ineluctable nature of mental illness and the desperate need of sufferers to receive appropriate, high quality help and care rather than be left to their own devices to escape their predicaments through more positive thought processes.
Simultaneously, the ending seemed to inadvertently expunge or diminish the audience's right to come up with their own inferences about a highly complex subject.
Though there's much to admire in both the acting department and in the overall intent, the play would benefit from considerable pruning and a re-think about the nature of the denouement.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Old Red Lion Theatre
Our show listing for Lullabies For The Lost
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