WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE: Old Vic
One Voice is a series of monologues commissioned by the Old Vic which consists of spoken word pieces of about 15 minutes long by renowned actors without scenery.
- Read on for reasons including how Zawe Ashton’s self-penned piece had the audience in tears
Julie Walters reads Renewed by Deirdre Kinahan and introduces us to a mother-of-five in her late 60s who has just had sex with a new lover and wonders whether Jesus can see her.
The kick in the story comes towards the end and may have something to do with why the family of Walters’ character Moira is so unhappy with the path her life is taking.
Walters reads the monologue from a chair but the ease with which it is told is embellished by the comedy the actress finds with the situation which fans of her work, particularly with Victoria Wood, will be familiar with.
Elsewhere Zawe Ashton, one of our favourite actresses, performs a self-penned piece about a mother who has lost a child in a fire. We can see audience members in tears around us and the story’s parallels with last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy are not lost on us.
First up is comedian Tez Ilyas who performs a Tamsin Oglesby piece called Have You Ever Engaged In Genocide? about the different problems a Muslim travelling between the US and UK faces at immigration.
Ilyas seems nervous (although to be fair so is his character for much of this monologue) and is performing with an in-ear microphone but without a script. His charisma is impressive and the piece is well-observed.
Author Chris Terrio may be writing the script for the next Star Wars movie but we didn’t warm much to John Speed, performed by Sargon Yelda, about a soldier under fire.
The television version of the Mark Gatiss-curated Queers, which we saw as part of One Voice last summer, won a monsta as our Best TV of 2017.
The idea of the series, and the way it expands on the entertainment offered by this venue, means that when One Voice is a mixed bag, as it is tonight, something thought-provoking and interesting is never far away.