Oh, The Humanity & Other Good Intentions
It was first seen in 2007 and has already dated somewhat, though Erica Whyman’s production for Northern Stage (which debuted last year) is lucidly staged and pitch-perfectly performed by Tony Bell, Lucy Ellinson and John Kirk.
It starts strongly, with Kirk delivering a monologue brilliantly titled Behold the Coach, in a Blazer, Uninsured, which sees a down-on-his-luck football coach explaining his shambles of a season whilst mourning a lost love. As with the later pieces, lines jump out like fish from a stream; "My life is like a sunset – stunning, and then over," he reflects.
Next we see a deeply middle-of-the-road couple in the familiar set-up of a dating agency video. This was my least favourite of the five, feeling as it does redundant in a world of internet dating and at odds with the originality of its companion pieces (though again there’s the odd peach of a line: “I’d like to start a family, or at least finish one”).
Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently provides Lucy Ellinson to chance to showcase her off-beat comic skills as an inexperienced PR trying to deliver some shocking news, followed swiftly by the lightest piece, a neat sorbet involving two photographers trying to catch the audience’s souls. And the finishing playlet Oh, The Humanity rounds the evening off in style, proving absurdly comic as a couple realise the onstage car they’re driving isn’t moving because “it’s just chairs”.
All told it’s a slightly uneven evening but Whyman coaxes the best from her cast, while designer Andrew Stephenson provides an immaculate toy-box set that pulls off the optical illusion of seeming suspended mid-air.
Eno proves his ability to communicate contemporary concerns with dramatic precision; and with Thom Pain running in tandem at the Print Room, he’s clearly having something of a moment.