There is something in these stories that will relate to every one. Cleverly written stories told in enthralling simplicity, Straight to the Heart is bound to have their audiences return to reality in an enlightened and lightened state.
‘…alternating monologues lead you on an unexpected journey.’
Straight to the Heart is an excursion through story-telling at it’s simplest and best. The programme consists of three short plays presented in a series of monologues delivered in short segments. Tightly written by Ken Jawaorowski, Straight to the Heart is currently playing at Above the Arts in the West End.
The production has been directed by Alex Dmitriev who has chosen to honour the stories with a simple style. The ambience of the performance space is very “fringe theatre”: up a steep and narrow staircase into a space lined with black curtaining. There are three seats set onstage and lights illuminate the three spaces in turn as the actors speak. The words themselves are also delivered in classic storytelling mode, straight to the audience.
There is a cast of three actors who are all extremely competent and comfortable with this style of presentation. All are present in the first play whilst the second two plays feature the woman in the group, Nadia Shash, with each of the men in turn.
Stash has three very different characters to portray. In the first, Pulse, she plays, with real empathy, the daughter of a dying man. She engages the audience throughout the narrative. Secondly Stash plays the American mother of a long awaited child, born with physical and mental challenges. One to the Hand One to the Heart is a highly emotionally charged piece. Lastly, she plays a ‘Bridget Jones’ kind of singleton looking for love. All three roles are clearly defined by Stash, and utterly believable.
Beginning the performance is Alistair Brown who captures attention with a beautifully timed monologue with a coming out narrative. He joins Stash in the final play where his character is also looking for love. There, he fights his personal demons to go clubbing by himself on a Friday night and meets a woman he connects with only to almost lose her by dint of his own actions. Fate intervenes to help. There is almost a tangible connection between Brown and Stash in this story.
The third member of the cast is Daniel Simpson. His first character is the father of a boy affected by school bullies. The story examines the options open to parents protecting their children and the consequences of taking action. Simpson shows clearly the feelings of a parent watching his child in pain and the horror of facing the outcomes of his chosen path of action.
Opening One to the Head One to the Heart, Simpson first shows his character to be a hard hearted, cold blooded, gangster. When his dreams of having a perfect child are not fulfilled he chooses a chilling solution – only to be foiled by fate. The final outcome remains unrevealed and the audience is left to provide its own conclusion.
Marking the return of lunch time theatre to the West End, Straight to the Heart is an opportunity to have a slightly extended lunch and lose yourself in some beautiful stories.