Whatever has attracted you to this show, whether you’re in Edinburgh, London or elsewhere, it doesn’t really matter what answers you have come looking for because Real Life will quench your thirst – and then some.
‘Through the power of theatre and performance, and with a script that is brilliant and hilarious in equal measures, this show self-prophesises to lead us through everything we might ever experience. In a straight-talking self-help, ted-talk kind of style, you might even find advice for the real things in life, as well as the wacky and ridiculous.
Ben Kewin is engaging and believable in each character he multi-roles and, without too many spoilers, he is so convincing that there was a moment where I genuinely thought Ben looked strange after removing one character’s wigs. The ‘caring’ scene is a true highlight as well as both renditions of his first day at work. The performativity in this style of humour can be awkward and even unnerving in a one-person show, but it is handled with a self-assured awareness that made me lean in and want to get involved. The piece reads as a little scattered and unorganised, and is delivered in a tone where this is recognised, but almost in the same breath used to its strength. Car mimes that get less defined, miniature furniture and superfluous table salt all add to this ‘humour for the sake of humour’ vibe, building towards the overall comedy. As the piece progresses, the characters and their scenarios begin to super-impose on top of each other, further blurring the lines between Ben’s characters and his performances through a wider lens. As the set gets as beautifully chaotic as I imagine the rehearsal room has been, I’m left hoping that I could perhaps pick up the phone and speak to Ben for a pep talk one day too.
The sound design itself could easily be the second performer in this show, with clever decisions that are comically timed and well executed by Gerry Marsden. Some of these components are however single tricks and feel a little useless after their big reveal. The height of some of the design elements physically lifts the space and also each story we hear; this very literally continues to surprise the audience throughout, and more of these would feel satisfying.
This piece is very well suited to the emerging nature of the work that arises from, and is supported by, the brilliant Camden People’s Theatre and I’m only disappointed it was on for just one night. I will keep an eye out for its return, and you should too.
Real Life played at the Camden People’s Theatre on 27 July. For more information, see the Camden People’s Theatre website. Photo: Benedict Power.