A Reason to Smile

Two wooden chairs, some books, an otherwise empty stage. This is the performance space, full of latent potential, in which we watch the relationship between Jo (Lucy Ioannou) and Christopher (Connor Chambers) flower and then die, just a few weeks short of their planned wedding. This comes as no surprise; the audience knows it's been doomed from the start, given that the action starts with their final row.

The story of this relationship is marked out with a mixture of flashbacks, most obviously starting with when they first meet in a library - Jo seeking inspiration for her writing, Christopher a volunteer working there while deciding what he wants to do with his life. Slipping back and forth in time, we slowly see the signs that things are not going to end well: his choice of a loyal dog as favourite animal compared with her 'tasty' chicken; his desperate hope that going down the pub could make things better, her self-absorbed excitement at how Charles Dickens tortures his lead characters; her insistence that he's always the first to say 'I love you'; the fact we don't consciously hear her say it to him at all.

The unravelling of the relationship is also expressed through passages of physical theatre, in which the pair perform an uncomplicated, robust choreography which effectively enough demonstrates their shift from initial, passionate physical intimacy to a growing hesitancy and ultimately resentment and revulsion - certainly on her part. Though Christopher is no angel, it's good to note that A Reason To Smile doesn't shy away from the responsibility Jo has for what happens.

Admittedly, there's a certain earnest quality about the piece, not least when you realise that Ioannou is not only the writer, but also co-directed and co-choreographed the piece with Chambers. Both acquit themselves well, however; they own their characters and bringing a palpable dynamic to the stage. There's genuine talent here: precisely the kind that the fringe can be so good at showcasing.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

The story of a contemporary couple. From the adrenalin rush of their first meeting through the stumbling blocks of their lives together as their relationship fades. Using physical theatre to express the roller coaster of emotions.