I’ll settle for the company’s own description of Under Electric Candlelight as an ‘existential tragicomedy’, but dont worry about interpreting that. All you need to know is that it’s quite simply a stunning piece of theatre with the added bonus of music courtesy of The Kinks.
a stunning piece of theatre... a triumph for all concerned
The story is straightforward and the play is constructed around a series of scenes in various locations. A young nurse, referred to as just Stranger, is traumatised after dealing with a particularly gruesome death in A&E. Two people become involved as he tries to come to terms with his life: his brother Damien, with whom he has a somewhat strained relationship, and Lola, a blunt and brutally logical middle-aged woman with whom he forms a strong bond and who struggles to help him find a reason to stay alive.
Will Pattle (Stranger), dominates from his first entrance, as he crosses the stage dressed in bloodsoaked scrubs to stand on the table from where he seemingly looks down on the tragedy that has occurred. His delivery is sharp and the clarity of his voice remains steadfast even as he trembles with emotion, rethinks his words and muses on the nature of death. His words are absorbing and his presence captivating set against a predominantly black canvas enhanced by sound, lighting and projection design courtesy of JLA Productions.
Emma Wright (Lola), is the perfect match for him. With comparable vocal qualities her Lola is assertive and confident to the point of being brash. Unlike Stranger, she knows her mind and is not afraid to challenge those around her while remaining supportive. Of similar temperament, though perhaps less helpful, Tom Isted’s Damien is self-assured, down-to-earth and earnest, again with refreshing clarity of delivery. Isted also doubles the waiter. It’s a short scene, but for those familiar with Juie Walters serving two soups the similarity is unmistakeable, but I'm assured unintentional; it certainly it provides a moment of comedy and light relief in this otherwise delightfully dark play.
The cast are all assisted in their outstanding performances by the quality of the writing achieved by co-writers Alice Briganti and Will Pattle (Stranger). The conversations and monologues are natural and flow with pace and rhythm. The language is everyday, but imbued with similes and metaphors that cater for the imagination and at times make it visual. The sensitive yet bold direction by Luke Adamson (Artistic Director of The Bridge House Theatre) has clearly enabled them to work together effectively and sympathetically
The end result of this this co-production in collaboration with OVO Theatre is a triumph for all concerned.