Third Angel developed The Life & Loves of a Nobody from a variety of original sources explored in its research and development phase. It used these elements to create a piece that was especially focused on ‘entertainment as social control.’
The Life & Loves of a Nobody is concentrated around Rachel, a nobody who dreams of being famous – she has no particular talent but has always just felt something was ‘inside her’. Using this idea of celebrity culture Third Angel’s production was aimed to be a visual exploration of the gap between our dreams and our reality.
With this is mind the actors – or more narrators – of the piece addressed the audience directly and hypothetically called upon our judgements and ruling at the end. However, the production comprised of mainly narration, and if you are narrating a story to an audience (as your main source of storytelling) what the narrators are saying has to be profound. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
If it was indeed the goal of this piece to make the narration almost average in order to highlight the ordinary nature of this ‘nobody’, then you have a difficult situation. Since, if you decide to use 50 minutes of your play to make a character seem unremarkable, and then suddenly try to twist it back at the end, the difficulty lies in the fact that by the end of the piece the audience simply don’t care enough to respond to the twist.
Nonetheless, the purposeful ‘story book’ theme did manage to keep the audience actively detached and an interesting play on the phrase ‘dying to be someone’ was discovered within the production.
The set design by Andrew Stephenson was a highlight and the simplistic use of visual stimuli like silhouetted images and string literally binding people together worked well against the simplistic script. Also moments of cutting paper houses and attaching bull dog clips to jackets were fun and helped with the narration of the piece immensely.
The Life & Loves of a Nobody needs an adjustment of pace or at least a variation of it somewhere within it. There was a good three minutes of watching paper butterflies being moved into the space. Whilst this doesn’t sound like long, when an audience is watching something monotonous without purpose those three minutes become three minutes too long. The whole production needed a higher level of energy purely to keep the audience engaged. By making the main idea of the production about someone’s unremarkable life, unfortunately it had the effect of making the production unremarkable. But with more development and an injection of dynamics this production has huge potential, as it’s quite clear that Third Angel isn’t short on ideas.
The Life & Loves of a Nobody is playing at The Albany until 7 February. For more information and tickets, see The Albany website.