ONE LITTLE WORD
Runs 35min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 May at Unicorn Theatre (Clore auditorium) London.
Happy show that finds a way through unhappiness.
Only the sternest disciple of Marcel Marceau could consider M6’s touring show for 3+ verbose. For the 35-minute action contains only one word, spoken only once, at a key moment in a story which successfully creates the world of young children left alone to play.
At first all is well as Luke Walker’s youngster enjoys life in a play-room, drawing and creating an imaginary boat to sail, using a stepladder and other materials. When Eve Robertson’s character arrives, all seems well for a bit. But soon the newcomer is turning things her own way, screwing-up the other child’s drawing and taking-over the space.
Her own drawing retains the marine theme but shows two figures in a boat, one noticeably larger and dominant. There’s no doubt who she sees in each role. While clearly the stronger personality in such situations, she also shows the inner anger that is fuelling her behaviour.
It leads to a familiar outcome, with the first child sitting unhappily at the side, cast out from his own make-believe world. And the newcomer has no-one to play with, no-one in the boat with her. That’s where the one apologetic word arrives, along with a circling of the heart and regretful expression, transforming the situation. Then the two begin genuinely playing together, creating a joint story as their imaginations take cooperative flight.
Buoyed along by Tayo Akinbode’s gently flowing yet varied music, One Little Word speaks clearly about the conflicts that can arise from unhappiness and aggression, and the way young people can handle these as their lives begin to move into more socially demanding spheres. It can speak to the bully, as the one who needs to change, and the bullied, showing there’s a way through unhappiness.
By creating a genuine world of play and showing how things happen, this piece is both enjoyable, resonating with many young people’s experiences of life in the moments without adults, and helps in recognise that individuals’ experiences are part of a wider world. And that problems can end happily: it only takes the right word, and the strength to say it.
Cast: Luke Walker, Eve Robertson.
Director: Andy Manley.
Composer: Tayo Akinbode.