Mr Sole Abode @ Hammersmith Lyric Studio, London

directed by
Benji Reid

performed by
Leo Kay
<We’ve all, at some point, felt overwhelmed by the stresses and strains of modern life, and maybe some of us have fantasized about possibly escaping it all. Well, the title character in this new production at the Lyric Studio lives out that fantasy.

Mr Sole Abode is a one man show about a self proclaimed architect who has grown weary of living in modern society, with its empty values, and decides to live in a fridge. The set, by Faulty Optic, is simple; a fridge, Sole’s home, stands in the centre of the stage surrounded by waste, cans, plastic bags and scattered matches. The fridge is just big enough for Sole and all his worldly belongings to fit inside. Everything is comically and cunningly utilised; the drinks tray is a book and CD shelf, while another folds out as a dining table and a small sofa sits in the central fridge space.

This is a devised physical theatre piece by London based company Madrugada. In some scenes there is no dialogue at all, just the simple and intriguing presence of Sole, played by Leo Kay, who has trouble sleeping in his fridge and after falling out of it- proceeds to gracefully ‘sleep-dance’ across the stage floor with pillow and duvet in hand. This is strangely riveting to watch and creates a sense of tranquility in the midst of this mad world he unwillingly inhabits. The distant sound of traffic and of honking horns is effective, representing everything that Sole has rejected.

The production sets out to explore ideas of ‘perception and sanity’ and touches on these issues through such scenes. According to his stories, Sole turned down work to build some of the world’s most famous buildings, explaining that he ‘had his own city to build’.

The simplicity of the piece is impressive; the lighting is extremely inventive, casting haunting shadows across Sole’s face and pasting surreal, puppet-like shadows on the walls behind him.

Mr Sole Abode falters though, when attempting to explain the reasoning for Sole’s life choices. Hearing how he was a loner as a child, only interested in building cities on his own in his room, added nothing to the piece. Leaving space for a little mystery and intrigue would have been far more effective.

Kay is an engaging performer and this deeply poetic piece of devised theatre deals with big ideas in an inventive way, but it doesn’t quite fulfill what is first promised. However, it’s an enjoyable way to ponder such questions such as: is it possible to successfully opt out of ‘life’? It forces us to examine ourselves and the society in which we live, something that more theatre should be doing.

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