As you enter the room for Ben Target’s one-man show, he greets you at the door, armed with a flask of coffee and disposable cups for anyone who would like some. He chats to everyone as they come in, builds up an audience rapport, and establishes some of the connection and trust that lies at the heart of this show’s success.
LORENZO is an autobiographical hour spent in Ben’s affable company, where he tells us about his experience caring for an aging family friend. “Uncle” Lorenzo has been a part of Ben’s extended family since he was a child. At one point Ben describes him as “the only adult I ever felt truly safe around,” for reasons that he fills in as the show develops. But now in his 80s, Lorenzo needs live-in care, so Ben moved into his house to help look after him during the lockdown year of 2020.
In his hour-long monologue, Ben delves into his own past and family story, in parallel with charting the highs and lows of looking after someone approaching their end of life. More profoundly, the show looks into how the experience of looking after Lorenzo changed Ben, and thus it becomes an exploration of the sorts of things that give life meaning.
Target writes and performs his own script; while there is a list of other credited creatives for LORENZO, it feels very much like a one-man enterprise. He has a lovely way with language, with some very effective imagery and an overall descriptive vigour that keeps the show moving forwards appealingly. He engages with the stage space very effectively and utilises some cunningly constructed props, in particular a super-duper carpentry bench from which he is able to pull all sorts of visual material to illustrate his story.
His performance is completely engaging, too. Right from that repartee at the entrance, Target has a stage persona that draws the audience towards him, and the show has a confessional feel to it that gives it a very compelling intimacy. It’s never solipsistic or self-centred, however: he tells his story to point out the beauty in other people and situations, and he is so deeply invested in it that his telling becomes both very funny and very moving.
Only very occasionally, such as with an extended scene celebrating Lorenzo’s new toilet, does it flag. Otherwise lots of recurring themes keep it tight and focused in a life-affirming tale that is warm and whimsical, but fundamentally all about human connection.