All The Things You Said You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say explores the struggles of one couple through four actors. Switching fluidly between different pairings throughout, the cast present everyday exchanges that have taken place between the couple, alongside the conversations which they wish they could have had; what was said constantly being judged against what might or could or should have been said, as the couple struggle to communicate.
It’s an interesting idea, and writer-performer Anthony Nikolchev cleverly manages to steer clear of cliché with his script. What could have been an artsy version of Sliding Doors is made much more interesting by not simply presenting what could have been said as a juxtaposition to what was said, but shows that even with the best intentions, saying the wrong thing is often inevitable, and that the relationship between the truth and the wished for truth is more complicated than one might think.
However, despite the interesting insights into communication that this play provides, it suffers from a lack of character development which makes these insights feel a bit flat. We are told so little about our couple and are thrown straight into fraught times that it is difficult to feel any sort of connection to them or hope for their future. When the twist at the end of the play leaves our couple in a worse position than we could have imagined, I am impressed by the narrative twist and build up, but not moved by the sad situation – it is an intellectual payoff rather than an emotional one.
However, if there is one aspect in which the play and the performers really excel, it is in the lengthy movement sequences. The cast are all talented dancers, and the balletic physical theatre is extremely impressive. Whilst injecting passion and spectacle into the show and bringing an intimacy to the characters which is not heard in the dialogue, it also proves how easy communication between the couple can be when speaking is no longer necessary.
Narrative is thin on the ground in this very short piece (it’s only about 50 minutes long) and a choppy episodic structure does not help to encourage character development, but powerful choreography and an intriguing concept keep it interesting, if not quite as emotionally powerful as I would have liked.
All The Things You Said You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say is playing at the Ovalhouse until 22 March. For more information and tickets, see the Ovalhouse website. Photo by John FG Stead.