In a spoken word account – I would assume non-fictional, though this is never made clear – Laurel Lockhart tells us of her time in New York as she tries to hit it big in the grand world of theatre. There’s a bizarre undercurrent to the piece; it is as though it is not so much a show as an opportunity to create a fantasy consistent with the memories she obviously treasures dearly. But Broadway this is not and her dreams of an audience larger than that which was present let this piece down. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Sara Goldfarb of Requiem for a Dream – a woman who becomes progressively caught up in illusions of fame.
The piece felt dated, like the kind of earnest television or radio monologue broadcast way back when. Lockhart’s style harks back to a simpler time, and this feels, at its heart, a very noble thing. It is, however, a style that has been parodied so many times that it is hard to take seriously. ‘They eloped.’ Ellipsis. ‘To New Jersey!’ She laughs. Rumbles on. It doesn’t matter if we, the audience, laugh: this is just a rehearsal before she goes on camera, and we the producers checking that this will be wholesome fare for the family.
If this had been a persona, it would have been clever – but there was no ironic framework that suggested this to be the case. Instead, she seemed unable to establish a connection with an audience that should have been all the more important in light of its sparseness. In fact, she barely acknowledged that she had an audience at all. She spoke over our heads, to where a camera or theatre full of people should be. As expressive and congenial a storyteller as she was, it was hard to feel much attachment to a storyteller who looked as though she was dreaming of a better audience.
It became almost impossible to keep track of the various characters she met on her journey to stardom, and this was an almost insurmountable impediment to both interest and understanding. Suddenly, she thanks us – ‘Five minutes, Ms. Lockhart!’ – and I left perplexed as to how exactly it had all ended. But maybe it hasn’t- maybe this is part of an undetectable irony. Maybe she’s still hoping for her big break.