Tonight, only in the Rehearsal Room of the Nottingham New Theatre, is your last chance to see Eight. In response to a survey asking twenty somethings for the defining characteristic of their generation, Ella Hickson’s award winning play explores the answer, which was ‘apathy’. Snippets of the lives of young Britons that have grown up ‘in a world where everything has become acceptable’ are explored through eight monologues, six of which are chosen by director Jonathan Newsome and producer Jess Courtney.
Written originally for Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, simplicity is retained in Eight’s presentation. In a Talking Heads, nothing-but-a-box-for-set fashion, we’re introduced to characters as diverse as Millie (Rhianna Grazier), the posh prostitute who laments the changing British class system; Mona (Lydia Hawthorn), who suffers abuse at the hands of her father only to find odd spiritual contentment in a dark ‘divine encounter’; to Jude (Sam Hayward), the seventeen year old hopelessly in thrall of an older woman.
This production is an example of good theatre looking effortless; the whole cast work the audience surrounding them with ease. Will Randall gives a particularly endearing performance as Danny, ex-squaddie from Sheffield; at the end of the day it seems that he just wants somebody to talk to.
John Bell, (whilst bearing a striking resemblance to Tony Curran with his fab beard – Vincent Van Gogh in that episode of Dr Who, anyone?) tells a touching account of the gallery owner who comes home to find his boyfriend hanging; he is disillusioned with both the art industry and what being gay has come to mean in today’s society. Without the slightest trace of the irritating campness often favoured by actors playing gay characters, he finds the unassuming humour in the monologue that gives the piece its poignancy.
That is not to say this is a depressing show! Daniella Blackford’s story of infidelity and poorly timed vindaloo appearances captures perfectly the essence of being a young couple. Sam Hayward has all but the very most poe-faced laughing – his gleeful impressions of Frenchman, guardian wielding father and awkward teenager are unrelentingly animated, just great.
Overall Eight is a solid and engaging show, let down only by some self-consciousness on the part of a couple of cast members, which weakened their performances. Whilst you won’t be blown away by anything challenging or life-changing, three pounds is three pounds well spent on an enjoyable couple of hours of entertaining and touching theatre.
Image: Nottingham New Theatre
Eight runs at the Nottingham New Theatre in the Rehearsal Room until Tuesday 30th April. For tickets email email@example.com