Review: The Nobodies, Chalk Line Theatre

As a rule of thumb, reviews are generally published immediately after they have been written; this particular review bucks that trend. This review was written in late February this year, when my window panes were bracing against the punishing winds of storm Dennis. I can assure you, the delay is not due to some sort of incredible display of procrastination on my part; instead, it is due to the double act that has been haunting theatres for the past three months- Covid and cancellation.  

Interestingly, there was going to be a delay in the publication of this review anyway, with the original reason altogether more jovial. The Nobodies was the 2020 recipient of the common award which was seeing them head to Edinburgh to perform at the Pleasance theatre this summer. Cue Covid related cancellations and said plans were scuppered- now the cast and crew will be re-launching with a tour in spring 2021. So, although the circumstances around this review may have changed, the sentiment is the same- The Nobodies was a superb show back in February and I’m confident it still will be when it re-opens. 

(the original review is below) 

If you look out your window right now it’s, most likely, sunny, with a light breeze and the sun probably won’t set till gone eight o’clock. Looking out mine, I watch as the trees lining my road frantically sway, attempting to withstand the effects of storm Dennis. No, I’ve not time travelled, but sat here in late February, I am writing a review for a show which will not be published till the summer months that you are hopefully now enjoying. 

As I type, London is in the middle of hosting the annual Vault Festival and it is here that I come to watch The Nobodies. By the time you’re reading this, it will be public knowledge that the cast and crew of this play will be heading up to Edinburgh to perform at the Pleasance theatre as the 2020 recipients of the common award. The validity of award shows has been under scrutiny over the past few months, but this show is undeniably a worthy recipient. 

The Nobodies is a play showcasing the current struggles of the working class in twenty-first century Britain. Set in the north of England, the legacy of the mining strikes lives on in the face of a new battle: the fight to save our NHS. Our three protagonists are all somehow linked to the newest hospital to be closed: one a healthcare assistant, one a patient’s son and another a homeless man who finds shelter within the hospital’s walls. Upon hearing the news of the hospital’s imminent closure, the three become unlikely comrades, with their initial action to save the hospital inspiring a chain of events which gradually begins to divert from their original intentions. 

Amy Guyler’s script is genius, masterfully balancing stark political commentary with bold theatricality. Saying the script excites and engages me, doesn’t go nearly far enough to explain how fantastically entertaining it is. Guyler’s writing covers a lot of ground, not by churning out fact after hard hitting fact, but by utilising the whole breadth of the theatrical arsenal. If you throw a stone, you’ll hit a dozen shows with political undertones, as such the inclusion of such subtext is no longer as ground-breaking as it once was. However, of all the shows on offer, this is one worthy of genuine applause. 

The cast, made up of David Angland, Joseph Reed and Lucy Simpson, are a force to be reckoned with. They deliver performances so sharp, they don’t just hit all the right notes, they smash, stomp and punch all the right notes. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that each cast member executes their layered, high-energy roles with skilful precision, delivering superb performances all round. 

The technical elements in this show don’t just keep up with the pace, they set it. Alan Walden’s lighting and Mekel Edwards’ sound design elevate the piece and compliment both the commentary and comedy that the play offers. 

Their run at the Vaults may be over, but luckily you’ve got a second chance to see this show. For the next few months I’ll be suggesting this show to everyone who even makes a vague suggestion they may be heading to Edinburgh this summer; in fact I’m tempted to join them for a second viewing. You may be looking forward to sun, seaside and sangria this summer, but I’d urge you to put a visit to see this show at the top of your summer 2020 bucket list. 

With Edinburgh Fringe now cancelled, Chalk Line Theatre are planning performances in 2021. For more information see Chalk Line Theatre’s website.