Paradise

The lives of a group of strangers clash on the London Underground. There’s a northern lad talking to anyone who’ll listen (and indeed those who don’t) about his band The Slave Boys; a skittish French woman; a couple so incompatible you wonder that they share a bench, let alone a bank account; a folk duo and an oddball hen night. Made up of a series of vignettes, much of the action involves people shouting at masked figures but receiving no response.

There’s a seat that stretches and contracts like a concertina, a blanket made out of newspapers and a guitar-playing duo singing snatches of popular songs from the last 30 years. The strumming along to Heart of Gold/ Let It Be/ Firework was an atmospheric way for the audience to enter the space - one of the girls in particular had an absolutely incredible voice – but the music was in no way tied to the action and felt disconnected.

Northern lad made for an energetic joker, keeping the energy of the piece high, which was made more impressive by the fact that for extended periods of time he was the only one speaking. However, the repeated refrains of ‘LEEDS LEEDS LEEDS YURKSHIRE YURKSHIRE’ did begin to grate. His fairly one-sided conversation with a bemused French girl was quite sweet, though with her limited English I was skeptical as to how she even made it onto the Underground.

Other vignettes were not nearly as developed: the music duo talking about kicking somebody out of the band was pretty self-indulgent and tedious; the couple taking someone else’s kid out to the zoo was also not particularly compelling, mainly because the characters were so teeth-grindingly nasty.

I did however enjoy our working class hero’s tube journey with his dementia-suffering mum, who still thinks that he is a school boy and reminds him not to be late for tea as she’s cooking chicken goujons - his favourite. The various disparate stories connect at the end with a degree of success, uniting in the aftermath of a violent accident on the underground. This did a fairly adequate job of tying the narrative strands together but still felt like lazy scripting.

A moderately entertaining mishmash of stories and anecdotes with mask work, a bendy bench and some nice guitar playing.

Reviews by Laura Francis

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Performances

The Blurb

The lives of eccentric strangers on the London Underground collide with each other on one unorthodox night, leaving devastation, disillusionment, gratitude and fame in their wake. Features multirole acting, live music, masks and an innovative recycled moving set.

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