THEATRE: This Little Life of Mine, Park Theatre

Written by: Victoria Highfield

Sex Lies and Videophones

A loveable look at intimacy and loneliness in modern day London

Meet Izzy and Jonesy, your average modern day London couple. Thirtysomethings with decent jobs, struggling to get on the housing ladder and desperately wanting a baby. Sound familiar? Their story isn’t a grand life and death tale set against startling backdrops but a series of unfolding everyday dramas. A series of everyday dramas that are a product of sex (sorry guys!) From scenes of swinging and slut shaming to lyrics such as ‘hurry up baby I’m ovulating’, A Little Life of Mine is all about shagging – with some life-altering consequences.

As the curtain lifted for Act One, my boyfriend and I were greeted with a scene we are all familiar with: the dreaded flat viewing. With romantic views of tower blocks, local cuisine of ‘chicken cottage’ and white IKEA furniture adding a touch of class, it’s the price you pay for a zone 2 home.

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This clearly resonates with the audience and is met with laughter and ‘I feel ya sister’ vibes. The theatre itself acts as a metaphor for both the intimate relationship between Izzy and Jonesy and the small studio-sized living space that the couple reside in.  I almost feel like I am there with them; a good mate trying not to point out the rapidly growing mould on the ceiling or damp patch on the carpet.

This is what ‘A Little Life of Mine’ is all about; taking you on a familiar journey with familiar people and Micheal Yale does this with success. From an overly friendly barista, nagging mother in law and Tinder loving city gal/best friend, these characters feel like home or at least the cast of Friends. In fact my mates and I are just like the main protagonists; living in similar areas, battling episodes in our lives that plague us as soon as we reach a certain age.

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Credit goes to the four talented actors who slipped in and out of their different roles with ease. Kate Batter and James Robinson were extremely believable as a young couple in love, if producing slightly cringe-worthy dialogue at times. However it was Greg Barnett and Caroline Deverill’s comedic performances which stole the show and packed the punch needed for Little Life to get it off its feet.

The fitting melodies of Michael Yale’s lyrics and Charlie Round-Turners music were played out beautifully alongside the intimacy of the venue. Songs ranged from emotional, pull at your heartstrings ballads like “Sometimes I confess I wish I loved you less” to comedy numbers, such as ‘Just One More’ which sees one quick pint escalate into a full blown drinking sesh. Oh Jonesy, we’ve all been there mate! There are a fair few decent songs throughout, however not as many as I would have liked considering the show’s being marketed as brand new British ‘musical’(much to my boyfriend’s delight as he can’t stand anything too cheese!) At times though, I thought the songs jarred with the realistic subject matter and that’s perhaps why there weren’t as many.

Drinking is a big theme in the production and almost every scene is welcomed with an alcoholic bevy. The audience (myself included) were too swigging along merrily and it really highlighted London’s love of booze. We love it nearly as much as we love our city, and that is a hell of a lot!

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Jokes aside it highlights how alcohol, whether good or bad, never fails to comfort our day-to-day stresses. I particularly loved Izzy’s painfully honest song about drinking alone after her failed pregnancy in Act 2. This is very much a social show, where you can go and enjoy a glass of red with the gang and relax into thinking about the oddly consoling problems of other people rather than your own.

The ending of the show is ambiguous. The closing scene pans out as most romantic comedies do; showing what happily ever after is ‘supposed’ to look like. Projections on the big screen, which are a nod to Izzy’s job as film editor, show Izzy and Jonesy with cute baby boy in hand and all seems perfect. However the audience are left wondering whether this is really reality or simply Izzy’s fantasy ending in her own fairy-tale movie.

With its diverse and cosmopolitan feel, Park Theatre in Finsbury Park is a perfect place to premiere a contemporary new show set in central London. There is a real buzz in the atmosphere – step outside and Little Life is all around you. Micheal Yale gives us a chance to look at a life behind the glamorous selfie with ‘nofilter’ hash tags and portrays an honest story of love and loss where ‘life is not a ball’.

This Little Life of Mine is showing at Park Theatre, Finsbury Park until 29th October 2016.  Book tickets here.

Read our interview with Little Life actor, James Robinson here.

Photos by Charlie Round-Turner

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