Raymondo and his little brother Sparky have been trapped in a cellar for six years. In this play written and performed by the talented Annie Siddons, we hear the enchanting story of the boys’ escape into the grisly streets of London.
Siddons writes with the expansive worldview and lively thoughtfulness of novelists like Zadie Smith.
Low-key lighting design and clusters of dusky lamps make for a drowsy atmosphere, so we sink into the story. It’s all very subtle, rightfully relying on the quality of Siddons’ writing to transport us. And transport us it does, to a rich and mystical world. Siddons writes with the expansive worldview and lively thoughtfulness of novelists like Zadie Smith. Like Smith, she can swoop around the world in a couple of sentences, leaving punchlines and aphorisms in her wake.
Occasionally the language errs into affectation. There’s really no need for seven-syllable words here; the story is at its best when it centres on quirky metaphors and acute observation. These make for vibrantly drawn characters and tenderly articulated relationships. It’s also a shame that Siddon’s delivery is a little nervous on occasion. A few technical hiccups on this occasion also meant that the musical interludes broke the spell rather than heightening it, and this lingered over the rest of the performance.
Raymondo covers exploitative labour, child slavery, loss, memory, escape and adventure. It is a delicate portrayal of childish wonderment and a fresh look at the two faces of our world – the heinously ugly and the magical. I’d like to see Siddons perform with a little more of the confidence that her captivating writing deserves.