We Never Got Off at Sloane Square
  • By Mel Evans
  • |
  • 13th Dec 2021
  • |
  • ★★★★

We never get off at Sloane Square is an adaptation of Helen DeWitt’s novel, The Last Samurai – the story of a mother, Sibylla, who singlehandedly homeschools her son, Ludo, whilst struggling with depression, poverty and the exigencies of daily London life.

The play is extremely well performed and is a rich and challenging experience.

Sibylla gets the young Ludo to watch Akira Kurasawa’s film Seven Samurai to try to make up for the lack of male role model in his life. The boy is curious about the identity of his biological father, but Sibylla is reluctant to tell him, and sets him a test that he must pass before she is prepared to reveal his father’s identity.

Throughout the course of Ludo’s journey, we are taken through the dense landscape of his learning - music, the classics, history, cinema, literature, physics, biology, and numerous languages - as Sibylla seeks to challenge the child and provide him with the knowledge, skills and philosophy required for the extraordinary life of the mind that lies ahead of him – always asking: what if things could be different?

Sibylla delights in Schönberg’s Theory of Harmony and uses it to inspire in Ludo an expansive curiosity that shuns what she calls ‘intellectual monogamy’. She encourages him to forge a life that eschews the lazy mediocrity brought about by patriarchy.

There are 4 actors in the cast: Amy Garner Buchanan, Lewis Brunige, Charlie Ives and Mohamad Faizal Abdullah, who use comedy, physical theatre, clowning, musicianship, a few chairs and several piles of books to create the entire world of the story. And with deft guidance from Max Kirk, the director, it’s a pacey and very funny ensemble effort.

As with any play adapted from a novel, the agonising thing is deciding what needs to be left out, and although there is still some editing to be done – particularly in the second half – Amy Garner Buchanan has made some very intelligent choices in bringing this to the stage.

The play is extremely well performed and is a rich and challenging experience.

I left the theatre feeling both inspired and moved.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Mel Evans

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The Blurb

Raised in poverty by a suicidally depressed single mother, child genius Ludo is convinced he can solve all their problems, if only he can find his father. And failing that, he’ll recruit one. Part Bildungsroman, part Freudian love story, and part swordfight, Amy Garner Buchanan’s debut play traverses the brilliant heights and the terrible depths of the human mind, all on a Zone 1 travelcard.

Based on Vulture’s “book of the century”, Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai.

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