The audience enters The Warren's Theatre Box to find the actor sitting on a minimally dressed stage, carefully cutting up and arranging slices of fruit on a platter. Once finished, she introduces herself as Leila Herandi, the performer, and warns us that she is definitely not the character she will be portraying. She tell us that we might become confused about this as the play progresses. If this makes us uncertain about whether we want to be here, she tells us, and if we’d rather see Chekov’s Three Sisters, "Now is the time to leave!"
Brilliantly written and performed and beautifully sung
Herandi’s solo show P is a mixture of theatre, storytelling, spoken word and live music. We are told from the first that the actor is likely to forget her lines and she gives a member of the audience a prompt-copy of the script which she does, indeed, ‘need’ to check from time to time.
The story we are told is of P, six-foot-three-and-a-half and hopelessly optimistic, who falls in love with a local shop manager, a man nearly a foot shorter than her. Undaunted by a disinterest that she misinterprets as barely concealed ardour, she pursues him with vigour and a complete lack of understanding of personal boundaries.
Herandi – now apparently out of character – tell us that the song she is about to sing is one that she herself wrote while at university and that she’s just inserting it into the play here as it seems to fit. And here starts that blurring that we were warned of at the beginning. Is it P, the character, who is unboundaried, or is it Herandi, the playwright? Who is it who is fluffing their lines and asking for cues? Who is it who picks up the platter of fruit and starts handing slices of apple and segments of satsuma to the audience – it certainly seems as if Herandi has come out of character to have this little interlude with the audience. But what are we to make of it?
Brilliantly written and performed, and beautifully sung, had this show been less well-crafted it might have looked like an unintentional mess. But that could describe P’s world completely – an unintentional mess. And what happens to people like P when they stagger through life assuming that they can behave as they please? I urge you to find out by coming to see this play.