Wednesday, 5 September 2012

#TheWaitingRoom

Stop. Read. Tweet it.

Call everyone you know - hell, work your way through the Yellow Pages if need be - and build yourself a little substantially large, theatre-loving clan (hipster glasses and dickie bows optional). Innovative theatre group Stepping Stonez is currently presenting their newest work The Waiting Room at The Lost Theatre in Vauxhall and you won't want to miss it.


As a fairly young production company, young pertaining to their 4 transient yet triumphant years in the industry, I have to admit that Stepping Stonez was completely unknown to me up until last week. This is a fact at which I (inwardly) shudder with deep regret. Think of all the plays missed, the impactful artistry that has been conspicuously lurking under the radar only because the world hasn't yet taken notice. Now shudder with me. But, before you lose all faith in the state of the universe, there is hope yet.

Running from the 28th August to September 16th, The Waiting Room - brainchild of Serge Rashidi-Zakuani - has already been described as a 'chair gripping drama'; a notion with which I don't disagree. It certainly seizes you, enthralling you in a web of aggression, confusion and fiery hilarity.

To the unfocused eye, the play may appear to be simply a call to arms. Seize the day! Carpe Diem! Overused clich├ęs for an overtired audience. Well, to that I can only reply, Should've gone to Specsavers, for it's so much more than that. Undoubtedly, it's a study of human behaviour. A stylised anthropological inquisition - not quite heightened realism but certainly a clash between naturalistic acting and the traditional use of the Greek Chorus. In simpleton's terms, it's exciting. Cinematic, believable and wholly surreal at the same time.


Opening to 'Try Again' by Aaliyah, the piece immediately throws you into an urban world - modern, somewhat broken and dominated by today's youths. This is only fitting as the boisterous young adults Jermaine and Ade and Jess and Sophie dominate most of the conversation. The dapper Lawrence and peace-making Gary remain withdrawn, if not averse, to the deportment and values of their counterparts.

In fact, the theme of the old world vs. the new factors heavily. The wealthy bankers, brokers, etc that consider themselves the victims against the angry, unscrupulous young generation that have soured and blemished society as we know it today. A young generation that brand the oldies - for lack of a better word - 'political wolves in sheep's clothing', selfish ignoramuses that have left their mess for us to clean up. Not your cup of tea? Well, they address the role of women in society too as well as the effect of the media - what with the agitated patients constantly being watched by an eerie looking gaggle of whispering entities - to name a few more motifs.


If you're not gripped by the interwoven themes, you will certainly be totally transfixed by the twists and turns and taken aback by the unexpected ending.

In a series of unanswered then answered questions, The Waiting Room presents one question conclusively: Do we make so much noise that our thoughts can't be heard? Do we? Personally, I think yes and SRZ's piece - as he is more fondly referred to on the leaflet - makes this inexorably more obvious.

So, what would I rate it? Out of 10, I'd give it an 8. Yes, there were moments where the acting slipped into one-level territory and the comic timing was patchy on the part of some cast members. True, the set was very simple - a typical, basic waiting room adorned with graffiti and some unnerving posters on diseases. Nonetheless, the script was very well written, conceivable and easily congruous in any modern day setting, and the message was one that needs to be heard. It was thrilling, comical and, at times, quite bizarre. Plus, the fantastic stage presence and delivery of Michael Duah (Ade) and Jason Lazarus (Jermaine) compelled me throughout the entire performance. It's not The Old Vic but it can definitely hold it's own.

Tickets are £8 in groups of 5 or more, £10 for concessions and £12 for normal. They can be booked on www.thelosttheatre.co.uk or by calling 08444 77 1000.

For more on Stepping Stonez, visit their website and to contact them you can email info@steppingstonezonline.com or catch them on Twitter. Specifically for press and more reviews, contact Pilar Nalwimba at pilar@mysocialmediapa.co.uk.
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