Written and performed by Noni Townshend,
Isolated by force or by choice, being too alone for too long is unhealthy. One really is the loneliest number.
In her whispery voice, Townshend, working in a 20-seat space, using only a white chair and small white tray-table, draws us into her monologue. She alternates between data-filled lectures about how the study will be used in prison systems and space travel, and her increasingly distraught inner dialogue as she deals with feeling trapped in the spartan flat where she is observed by researchers via video cameras.
Plunged into enforced “alone time,” Alex soon experiences aural hallucinations, a common side effect of solitary confinement, and she anthropomorphizes her pillow, talking to it like Tom Hanks to his volleyball in Castaway. Madness seems to lurk in the corners where Alex thinks she hears whispers.
Townshend’s writing is spare and elegant, though the script might benefit from raising the stakes of Alex’s dilemma a little earlier. Throughout the one-hour piece, Townshend’s acting is relaxed and natural, no big moves or emotional overflows.
She and director Keiran Hardie, both from Dundee, have hit on something important in this little play. Isolated by force or by choice, being too alone for too long is unhealthy. One really is the loneliest number.