It’s not every day that someone explains their loneliness, and what it means for their wellbeing. Here Matthew Leonard Hall takes us on a journey through the machinations of his mind in a compelling and creative depiction of loneliness.
He says the show took "sweat and tears" to develop, and it’s to be believed. It’s an intense hour – stifling at times, as well as moving. It oozes the care Hall has taken in its details. Apart from its role in raising awareness of a little-talked-about subject, this is also a fantastic example of creative storytelling.
Growing from one small poem Hall wrote a few years ago, the show is entirely poetic, and a brilliant piece of writing. Don’t expect a recital, though. He delivers the piece with a brave confidence; sometimes his delivery feels a bit too serious, and the comic elements did not bring much light relief, but his clear commitment demands respect – perhaps awe.
The set could be an attic, dimly lit, full of old books and slides. An old-fashioned slide projector is propped up on a pile, and most of his show is a commentary on the slides, as he clicks through box after box of them.
It turns out that he bought the slides and made them personal. Character after character appears on screen, and he weaves a story about them – often giving only a few minor details, highlighting that there are stories and depth behind the mannerisms or idiosyncrasies of people we pass by on the street. Their names may be irrelevant, but he does name each of them, fleshing them out for us with a flourish. He cleverly shows what it’s like to be dominated by a mind which doesn’t always distinguish what is true and what is fantasy.
All the while he is accompanied by Jim Harbourne on drum box and guitar – and though it’s a very small stage for Hall and Harbourne and the intensity of the show, this really works. The story is all the more compelling for this soundtrack.
The closing minutes are effective, and inspire hope for our character. If Hall could just lighten his delivery a tad, this has the potential of a five-star show.