Review: c-o-n-t-a-c-t, London Central (Monument)

c-o-n-t-a-c-t was originally created by Gabrielle Jourdain and directed by Samuel Sené. Originally a French production, this version has been brought to the UK through the work of award winning producer Katy Lipson in collaboration with Aria Entertainment and WEF Productions. 

A small group of slightly damp Londoners meet by a building in Monument, London. We’ve downloaded an app onto our phones which is putting out a jingly tune. We all stand with headphones in waiting for something to happen. 

A girl walks past our group in a light green dress and denim jacket. We’ve had a few passers by at this point so this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. But, we can hear her thoughts about the cracks in the pavement, the gum. A silent group of strangers follows her down onto the Thames Path. We watch as thoughts noisily jangle in her head, clashing against each other in complete syncopation. 

Sitting down on a bench an all too familiar experience occurs – a stranger sits down uncomfortably close to her completely ignoring social distancing. But, something is different. He can hear her thoughts. Not only that, but she can communicate with him through her thoughts. He is her guardian angel – we all have one apparently. We cannot see them except when they want us to. 

We are aware from the beginning that Sarah is going through something, but not ‘trauma’, she says. She constantly carries her Dad’s motorbike keys in her pocket and occasionally clicks them – maybe at some point she’ll find the bike, she hopes. 

This piece is a subtle and emotional take on life after loss and the inescapable monologue in our heads. As someone who has lost a parent I am moved by the depiction of dealing with bereavement. Grief is ever present and you learn to walk through life with it at the back of your mind. The setting for this conversation is absolutely gorgeous. Amidst the haze of misty rain and the grey Thames we follow a girl and her guardian through her process of grief. 

This is a winning concept that is perfectly adjusted to a socially distanced performance, but is let down by an average script. I thoroughly enjoy myself because of the exceptional idea, but hope that this concept could be reused to accompany a more gripping plot. Despite the brilliant acting from Laura White and Max Gold I am not enthralled by a guardian angel storyline in a very traditional iteration.

Contact is playing until 10th October. Tickets for c-o-n-t-a-c-t are available here.