Laura is turning 30. She used to have aspirations of being a photographer, but now she is stuck in a dead-end job in London – answering phone calls for a wealth management firm, paying the bills, going to yoga, living with her old dog Roy. This was never the dream, but it's the reality for many millennials in the UK: living from one day to another, dreams locked away.
Stacey Devonport is the founder of Grit and Grace Theatre, and their production of Nomad is a great solo show. Devonport also plays Laura, and her energy on stage is almost unbelievable; she doesn’t stop moving for a second. The play uses a combination of spoken word and multimedia to bring Laura’s life alive, utilising light and sound effects to very good effect.
Laura tells the audience about her growing-up years, her adventures with her Scottish friend Dany, and her family's initial disappointment at her plans to study photography at university. You can’t buy houses with photos, is her Dad’s astute point of view. But she goes for it anyway – taking photos, travelling as far out as India, trying to make a career. But her job now is monotonous, and she is lonely to the extent of getting drunk on her own on her 30th birthday.
The climax of the show is an equally solitary moment, and our hearts can’t help but go out to our poor protagonist, stood at the airport, waving goodbye to a friend. The premise is reminiscent of Philip Larkin’s Toads, where Larkin – fed up with his library job – talks about having a toad-like creature sat on him and refusing to budge, the constant pressure and drudgery stifling him.
When it comes to Nomad, though, not all parts of the play are entirely clear. Some of the meaning is lost because of the non-linear storyline. For example, is Laura still at university and working on the side, or is she working full-time? I’m still not entirely sure. But credit must be given for attempting a more creative form of storytelling within a solo narrative.
This is the kind of play that risks being glossed over, because it depicts more of the everyday rather than upholding a special ‘cause’. But don’t let that deter you; it is a very well-made and well-executed show, with a variety of sensory input.