REVIEW: Declan, The Actors Centre (Online)

This new play written and performed by Alistair Hall is an intense look at isolation and the effects it has psychologically.

(c)Jamie Luke Scoular.

It has to be said that I have been pondering exactly what to say about this new play from Alistair Hall, debuting online through The Actors Centre now to help support the theatre while it is in the dark.

This is not a straight forward one man show in which a plot is clear to make out – rather it feels like a series of memories, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy as it examines the impact that isolation has on people psychologically as seen through the eyes of Jimbo.

Performed as well as written by Alistair Hall, there is a great intensity to the piece as Jimbo reflects on the disappearance of his friend Declan, while intertwined with this are a number of disorientating scenarios that offer insight into the state of his mind.

Described as a modern ghost story, it seems that the ghosts here are related to the mind rather than a other-worldly presence. The trouble is the whole effect of the play is rather disorientating and difficult in places to make sense of – particularly when he discusses a vampire who has been drinking his blood or the conversations he has with King Edward II. The merging of reality and fantasy doesn’t feel quite as seamless as it could be.

This being said, there are still elements of the play that can be really appreciated in highlighting Jimbo’s feeling of isolation and disconnection from the world – particularly through his relationship with his father (Jimbo’s mother is no longer around), with the story of his gran’s 90th birthday party proving to be quite profound.

Directed by Alexis Gregory, the whole production has an eery atmosphere about it that lingers after the show has finished. Throughout, Gregory adds subtle touches that highlight the way in which Jimbo’s emotions emerge – helped by Alistair Hall’s intense and detailed performance that is completely absorbing. Hall gives the character a frantic energy that is compelling to watch.

Overall, with all the theatre available to watch online it is refreshing to see a piece of new writing being performed in this way. It has a wonderful atmosphere about it that makes you feel as though you are there in the room with Jimbo. But it would be great to see just how much further Hall could develop the story to provide a more fully rounded insight into Jimbo’s life.

By Emma Clarendon

Declan is available to watch for £3 via The Actors Centre website until the 28th June.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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