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The Life and Loves of a Nobody (Sheffield)

Third Angel premiere their new work, The Life and Loves of a Nobody, at the Studio Theatre, Sheffield.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I arrived at Third Angel's latest offering with little knowledge about the play's content. A cryptic synopsis on the Sheffield Theatres website offered little insight, but I was quietly confident it would not disappoint based on my last experience of their work, What I Heard About the World.

Rachael Walton in Life and Loves of a Nobody, at Studio Theatre, Sheffield until 25 January.
© Marcus Sarko

As the cast of this two-hander introduced the production, they promised that the second part of the performance would involve something which instils fear in many theatregoers minds; participation. I immediately perfected my best nonchalant face in the hope that someone nervous-looking would be chosen instead.

The dull and uneventful life story of the protagonist, Rachel, is retold with humour and sensitivity. Her run-of-the-mill existence is, however, peppered with small glimpses of beauty alongside heartache and pain. From miscarriages to divorce, a long-lost Father to shattered dreams; Rachel's story tells the oh-so-familiar tale of disappointment rooted in a sense of entitlement in the loss of aspirations towards fame and fortune. In the life-story narrative, the closest Rachel comes to the life of a performer is serving burgers from a van outside a circus.

There were no costume changes in the performance, but the two-strong cast decorate the stage continually. Fairy lights trail the ceiling and floor to depict streetlights reflecting in the canal, paper butterflies hung on string are dragged from the side to middle of the stage (in a somewhat slow and admittedly excruciating process to watch) to represent butterflies that a young admirer of Rachel's collected in a jar for her (which were unfortunately dead when they reached her).

As we moved towards the dreaded participation section, I was wondering how this tale would close. Rachel had been given another shot at celebrity in the form of an audition tape that was heard pre-recorded at the start, and performed by the female actor. In a shocking twist, the audience are asked to make a chilling decision over the price Rachel is prepared to pay for fame and how desperately she wants to shirk her mundane and meaningless life.

In our fame obsessed world, where young girls aspire to be reality stars and being a celebrity does not always infer talent, it does not seem a million miles away that (as the programme suggests too) a Hunger Games-style existence game would see people dicing with death in order to see their name in lights.

As usual Third Angel have held their mirror up to today's society and helped us to reflect upon and question what is normal, what we do and should aspire to and the ridiculous depths we would sink to in order to achieve social acceptance and respect.

The Life and Loves of a Nobody continues at the Studio Theatre, Sheffield until 25 January.