We had a few clues. The play was to take place on an unusual night on the London underground, was to involve pairs of seemingly disconnected characters going about their everyday lives; and as for the location, we were to reach it by bus, and it was expected to be “COLDCOLDCOLD” so wrapping up warm was in order.
That’s all I can say. Apart from that anyone seeing a group of forty students making their way towards this mysterious location may well have felt a little concerned as to the legitimacy of what was to follow. To add another element of mystery to the play, Paradise is a devised performance directed by Tom Barnes and produced by Gabby Carboneri. Each character was developed during collaborative improvisation sessions before each personality was then woven into a script which would form the basis of the play. The natural development of the characters, and the rehearsal time the actors spent together was evident in the performance through the spontaneity of interaction, and through the naturalness of expression of each actor.
Lyle Fulton, in his role of Felix; a committed musician with an exaggerated view to the profundity of life, thrills the audience with his comic analysis of the meaning of ‘playing’ an instrument much to the frustration of his fellow band mate, Gabrielle (Jenny Kohnhurst). Rosie’s (Victoria Murphy) trivial concern for the death of her soap-opera counterpart highlights the sometimes superficial nature of modern life.
Similarly, the opening scene between Karen (Victoria Murphy) and Paul (Matthew Miller) is an entertaining start to the play, yet their comically carefree attitudes lead to a darker conclusion. The cast are on stage for the whole performance; and whilst the focus is always on two actors, the wordless, masked faces of the rest of the cast emphasises a disjointed modern society, the realisation of which is crucial to the play’s conclusion.
The simple set is used very effectively; the main prop came from Germany, and its versatility easily demonstrates transition between each different sketch. Another effective use of space is the yellow line to mark the tube platform, which we were told strictly not to cross, so becoming an engaging instrument of audience interaction. Likewise, the guitar music from Tom Barnes, playing the role of a busker, maintains the audience’s impression of being on the London underground, as well as adding another element of liveliness to the play.
In the words of the director in an interview for Impact, “When anyone goes to any theatre, they know exactly what’s happening. They know where it is, they know they’ll sit in a seat for an hour, have a little break, then do the same again, and invariably they’ll know the plot.” There’s a lot more than that to Paradise; it’s an example of real creative and performing talent, and is full of mystery, but it’s only on for one more night. You really should go – I dare you…
Paradise will be performed again this evening, Tuesday 5th February. For ticket information go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/138505266313511/?fref=ts