CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Lullabies For the Lost/The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People, at Old Red Lion Theatre

17 January, 2020 — By Ali Bambridge

Duncan Wilkins in The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People. Photo: Natalie Wells

LOSS and isolation underpin Rosalind Blessed’s Lullabies for the Lost, directed by Zoé Ford Burnett.

Eight characters are forced to confront personal demons as they struggle to find a way through.

Despite the themes, there are comedic moments as the characters respond to each other’s issues. The play opens with Larry (Chris Porter) wrestling with a problem familiar to many – how to get out of a social engagement.

Blessed deftly illustrates the diverse nature of the modern mental health crisis and, drawing on her own experiences, offers hope through interaction and by looking outward. Blessed’s portrayal of a bulimic and Duncan Wilkins’ compelling performance as an institutionalised anorexic drive home the paralysis that can become a lifelong companion.

The individual stories underline the pressures of social media to conform and live life according to certain norms, from supermarket shopping to sex. What gives us “worth” is driven home in the stories of Nerys (Kate Tydman) and Sarah (Helen Bang) whose agonies over childlessness play out in contrasting ways.

Anna Kezia Williams’ minimalist set mimics the bleak emptiness of the characters’ lives as they fight to hide their illnesses.
Lullabies for the Lost is a testament to the strength of families as well as a poignant reminder of how those closest to us can often bring us to the point of no return.

The Delights of Dogs and the Problem of People tackles domestic abuse. Robyn (Blessed) and James (Wilkins) portray a couple whose relationship is revealed in short sharp bursts as we move back and forward in time. Wilkins’ portrayal of an abuser is chillingly effective as he morphs from romantic to restraining in an instant.

His kind gestures are revealed as methods of control and for Robyn, the realisation that love should be purer comes in the shape of a dog.

Both performances, under the direction of Caroline Devlin, lead us to uncomfortable places and illustrate how easy it is to twist ideas of love into something darker.

Until February 1
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