The second production in The Other Room’s Lovesick season is Matthew Trevannion’s beautifully complex All But Gone. In his first production following appointment as Artistic Director, Dan Jones takes the reigns of a script which boldly, yet delicately, embraces a variety of themes showing empathy to the past and present.
Within the confines of living room, we are first introduced to Kai. Kai, played by Callum Hymers, has broken into Owen’s home- it seems in hope of food. And so the story of the present is told. Owen considers himself to be incorrectly targeted as easy pickings by Kai. As well as scaring Kai witless, the oddity of an olive branch is offered. A relationship develops between the two, it seems, in lieu of Kai having a meaningful role model in his life.
Wyn Bowen Harries takes on the complex portrayal of Owen. Whilst his time in the present is fitting and convincing, we are soon introduced to a series of glimpses into his past. This is first felt, bizarrely, with the presence of a younger man in his underwear, stood in the living room reciting poetry. It transpires Howell is one of Owen’s greatest secrets.
In a complex piece of seemingly interspersed scenes, the story is ably supported by Joe Fletcher’s lighting design, adding a softness and clarity to the emotion of the piece. In Daniel Graham’s Howell we see the alternate in Owen. Two men struggling with creating societal norms within the constraint of their love for one other. Daniel Graham brings a humour and reality to Howell’s demons which lead to an understanding of his demise.
The living space is successfully used to bring the context to both lifetimes. We are able to see the strengthening of Owen and Kai’s relationship alongside the history of this home. The costumes of pastimes are fantastic, enabling the clarity of times past and present. Some lightheartedness is added as we see the home in stronger days. With Nicola Reynolds in the role of Olwyn, Howell’s mam, and homekeeper.
We see the delicate strength of Howell’s sister, Bev, starting with humour and a strength of relationship between her brother and his best friend. But as Owen turns to her in place of Howell we see her determinedness and sensitivity in eventually walking from the relationship. Elin Phillips’ Bev is a solid performance enabling belief and compassion.All too quickly, this seeming passive production of past and present offers the reality, that this isn’t a writing of past and present, but the illness of confusion. Quietly, unassumingly, the hints are dropped, until the reality is accepted.
This is the story of a man declining under the power of dementia. And, in understanding this, the story is allowed to come full circle. Of understanding that Kai and Owen are far more than people who have stumbled into each other. And that relationships can be established from the most unlikely of circumstance. All But Gone successfully develops an empathy with issues past and present. In the confines of The Other Room this beautiful story is allowed to unfold and embrace its audience.
All But Gone is at The Other Room until 14th April, with tickets available on the website.
Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words contained are my own.