Acting Alone

Acting Alone is a thoughtful, introspective piece of solo storytelling in which actor Ava Hunt reflects on the suffering of the Palestinian people and the frustration she feels at not knowing how to help. Hunt is an accomplished and compelling performer, but the structure of her show feels confused and the content quite inconclusive.

This thought-provoking piece is full of interesting ideas, and Hunt repeatedly shows herself to be a more than competent performer.

The show has its genesis in a trip to the Palestinian occupied territories undertaken by Hunt and her producer while researching a play about the lives of people on the West Bank. Hunt tells us how she felt unable to let go of what she heard on her visit, and the main body of the show mixes her recollections of Palestine with stories of her own life as an actor.

The stories Hunt tells are beautifully vivid and emotionally rich. The mounting fear of being stopped by airport security, a conversation with a conflicted Israeli soldier, a meeting with a jaded UN lawyer: all are rendered with wonderfully evocative depth by Hunt’s narration. Prominent in her stories is a sense of personal insecurity and self-doubt as, again and again, she condemns her own inability to help make a difference in the lives of the people she meets. “What good is being an actor” she asks, “when the world needs action?” There is a sense of great integrity to Hunt’s performance, and we get powerful impression of the pain she feels at not knowing how to help. However, for the most part Hunt steers clear of properly engaging with the political complexities of the situation at hand, instead superficially mentioning them and moving on. The unfortunate effect of this is that a show which could have provided an interesting means to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead becomes a vehicle for Hunt’s own personal anxieties. And while the audience empathises with her frustration and self-doubt, it feels like she does very little to develop these ideas throughout the show.

Hunt’s use of props also felt a little bit disappointing. At one point, for instance, she hands around pictures drawn by Palestinian school children to the audience. This could have made for a really interesting device, but instead it was swiftly abandoned without much use being made of it. Similarly, Hunt’s decision to incorporate several traditional fables from various cultural backgrounds felt awkwardly out of place with the rest of the show and was never really explained.

This thought-provoking piece is full of interesting ideas, and Hunt repeatedly shows herself to be a more than competent performer. However, at times the production doesn’t seem to know exactly what it’s trying to be, with the result that the script sometimes feels confused. 

Reviews by Nuri Syed Corser

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Acting Alone is inspired by the people Ava met in refugee camps in Palestine. In her unique performance style, Ava weaves together stories of immense complexity and fragile humanity with tales of her often funny and occasionally bizarre experiences of working as an actor and performing alone. Heartbreaking, witty and confronting, Acting Alone asks questions of us all – can one person make a difference? And what are we willing to risk? 'Compelling, imbued with a rare empathy and compassion' ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘It's rare to be so engulfed by such a beautiful story... truly inspiring’ (audience review).