It’s either a mid-conversation pick-up or a recording error that opens Jane Martin’s monologue, Lockdown Drag-Out, in which she appears as the plummy and plumpy Audrey Stanton Harcourt. However, the moment passes and we are able to follow her journey, thus far, through lockdown, in a video diary she feels compelled to record for posterity; her own time capsule of encounters, political messages, warnings, advice and ponderings about what really is going on in the flat above her.
The many changes of mood, voice, emotion and tempo keep the story alive and vivid.
She lives in Lowestoft, where she’s a member of the local amdram group, Kitty and the Rainbow Pirates, whose rehearsal and performance schedule has inevitably been thrown into disarray. Despite having a letter about self-isolating she takes trips on her ability scooter to the seafront, to maintain her sanity, and to Iceland to pick up essentials; most importantly, it would seem, supplies of pinot noir, of which she is an avid imbiber. Things do not always go well on these outings!
Samantha, the cleaner, who appears in name only, has experience as a career, which comes in handy when Audrey has a turn that requires her to reluctantly seek help. With the health scare over, concerns, speculations and worries about what the neighbours are up to take over. Both provide contributions to the historical narrative she is assembling.
Martin gives a delightfully eccentric performance. Despite a few fluffs and hesitations, the many changes of mood, voice, emotion and tempo keep the story alive and vivid. She’s assisted by steady camera work from Jantin Martin, with Jim Martin-Tibbenham as best boy and video editing by Enaj Nitram.
For the second time at this festival I’m delighted to say that if you are a fan of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads this is one to watch. In just a fifteen minute rendition, Martin, founder and writer/director of the newly-formed Batty Hatsters theatre company, has added another fascinating character to that list of isolated ladies trying to make sense of the world and their lives.