The story of a relationship told entirely out of sequence as a play within a play. If this sounds complicated, that's because it was.
Turns traditional storytelling on its head and provides many heart-wrenching moments of vulnerability where the unsaid takes center stage.
The Ones (written and directed by Ilias Panagiotakopoulos for Urbn Theatr) was advertised as ‘a unique and complex story told in a completely new way’ and it certainly delivered on this. Details were slowly eeked out of both plots like the final blobs of toothpaste being squeezed from a tube. At times The Ones did feel a bit too much like an IQ test as the audience tried to piece together the story from what little snippets they had. However, by the end of the play its complexity and intertwining could be fully appreciated and admired, in spite of earlier frustration. The only aspect that went too far was the addition of the ‘play within a play’, as I feel the story of the relationship would have been intriguing enough without it.
The Ones had some beautiful moments of humanity and vulnerability within its writing. A highlight for me was the couple unexpectedly meeting again after a long time apart. Their anxious yet amicable conversation with its unspoken undertones of love was moving and performed very naturally. In fact, natural acting was, on the whole, a particular strength of the performers, William Uden and Liis Mikk. Uden had a free and jumpy character which was contrasted well by Mikk’s intensity. However, sometimes her intensity meant she was too still.
The imagery used in the staging was very powerful. One particularly memorable aspect was the use of letters being thrown across the stage to show a passing of time. Though this was an interesting technique, occasionally the envelopes on the floor stuck to the actors’ shoes, so this could use rectifying a little. Although the staging was minimal, there were still some unnecessary components to it. Every time a date was announced it was written on a blackboard and by the end of the play these boards were covered in dates. This was an original design feature, but did little overall to enhance the performance and their purpose was not made clear enough.
Despite some minor flaws to the production, I would still describe The Ones as worth seeing. It turns traditional storytelling on its head and provides many heart-wrenching moments of vulnerability where the unsaid takes center stage. You really won’t have seen anything like it.