Formed of two contrasting plays by Eugene O’Hare, The Human Connection makes for fascinating viewing but can lose direction in places.
Formed of Larry Devlin Wants to Talk to You About Something That Happened and Child 786, this is very much an evening that is about delving into the psychology of three different characters who are all mentally tormented in some way.
The evening begins with Larry Devlin Wants to Talk to You About Something That Happened, a monologue in which sees a man discussing the incident in which he hit his son and is attempting to repent. Speaking directly at the audience, Stephen Kennedy’s emotionally raw performance is compelling to watch as we witness the extent of his emotional breakdown.
While Eugene O’Hare’s script gives us a great insight into the character’s mind, it can feel as though it jumps all over the place slightly meaning it can be difficult to get a grasp on the direction that the monologue is going to take next. However, there is an unexpected twist that reveals just how broken the character is that makes for a powerful moment. The writing is also very sharp and it feels as though it has been written with care and it really makes a strong impact on the audience.
Throughout it all, Stephen Kennedy performs the monologue with great insight and you can tell just how immersed he is in the character’s torment – highlighted during the climatic moments in which we discover that not all is what it seems. It is a really powerful performance.
In contrast to this, Child 786 examines the impact that lockdown has had on people. Initially we meet Lennox – a student at university who is resentful at the fact that young people have had to sacrifice their youth and university experience to protect the vulnerable and elderly. In contrast to this, his mother Hilary maintains the stance of having a ‘stiff upper lip’ will get us all through – throughout the play the pair argue about COVID conspiracy theories which is fascinating but can feel slightly heavy handed in places.
To make a play about the pandemic is a bold thing to do and Eugene O’Hare really attempts to cover a wide range of issues surrounding COVID and the masses of misinformation that has been spread over the last fifteen months. However, given that we are still going through it – it feels a bit too soon to be dissecting and reliving it all over again.
It also should be said that both Hilary and Lennox’s conversations take them round in circles – neither one willing to admit that the other might have a point and can feel slightly repetitive in places which can make it frustrating to watch in places.
Performance wise, Ishia Bennison as Hilary and Joshua Williams as Lennox have a great natural chemistry together that makes the slightly thorny relationship that the mother and son share interesting to watch unfold. There is great power and passion that emerges from both performances, keeping the audience thoroughly engaged from start to finish.
What does emerge from this evening is that both plays have strong potential but could use some more focus to provide the audience with deeper understanding on what the purpose of the plays are. An interesting evening nonetheless.
By Emma Clarendon
The Human Connection continues to play at the Omnibus Theatre until the 4th July.