Shopping Centre is the second show by Matthew Osborn in as many years. The show is a bleak look at the 21st century loner and how simple life events can lead to socially and mentally destructive ones.
The first impression to take away is that Osborn is an impeccable character actor. Apart from a few vocal slips from his gritty cockney accent, the main character was entirely believable. He communicated the pain of love gone sour and the anxious, paranoid behaviour of the stereotypical loner effectively.
However, there are numerous variables in the show that detract from this more than stellar performance. To start with is the script. I was waiting patiently through the hour long monologue for either a new character or a big revelation -neither came for a painfully long time. The final revelation can be seen from a mile off, while the script feels saggy and lifeless in places.
Parallel to this the delivery is suspect, as the piece’s direction appears to be problematic. Half the play was strictly naturalistic with the story being narrated to a deceased character in the room,while the other half was delivered face on to the audience in what appeared to be direct address. This created the impression that the monologues were manufactured, as opposed to naturally flowing lamentations.
The lighting design is also frustrating. An obvious change in colour from white to red on the stage indicates an important emotional switch that is connected to narrating (yes you guessed it) face on to the audience.
The script is reticent of Pinter (mostly The Dumb Waiter), but without an equally skillful execution of dialogue. Although an interesting premise, in that we can see what today's psychotic loner really thinks, the way the action has been staged purely leads to confusion. If you must go and see this show enjoy the character acting master-class on display. Otherwise, it's back to the drawing board on this one.