by Julie Wallis twitter.com/NiceNic63
City Love at The Old Joint Stock Birmingham
City Love by Simon Vinnicombe is at The Old Joint Stock in Birmingham until 17th March.
This uniquely entertaining two-man show stars Elizabeth Lloyd-Raynes as Lucy, a successful singleton making her way through life whilst maintaining a promising career and having a nice flat in the right part of town, and Jim as played by Sam Blake. Jim lives in one room in his sisters basement, he is angst ridden, insecure and painfully shy around women. Surely two such opposites could never form a relationship, could they?
The play starts before the audience have finished arriving as we walked in to find Lucy in her underwear in front of the mirror in her bedroom. A moment or two later I realise Jim is also in his underwear and also getting ready for work and that Jim and Lucy are both looking at each other as they mirror their early morning routines.
Each character narrates their own thoughts and actions as they move props around the floor and break the fourth wall by looking individual audience members square in the eye. As the title says, Jim and Lucy do find love and the way our characters express the raw emotions they are feeling is rather beautiful.
This touching play is quite unlike anything I have seen before. I really did appreciate the excitement in our characters as they met, swapped phone numbers and played the waiting game before texting or replying. As I said, when they break the fourth wall and look you straight in the eye to declare their excitement or fear, well I felt like I was working with Lucy and I did quite honestly have to bite my tongue on a couple of occasions to stop myself from offering advice! I can’t remember ever feeling so involved and invested in characters on stage before.
The intimate space that is the theatre at the Old Joint Stock is the perfect location in my opinion. Being up close and personal with Jim and Lucy really worked. Later on there was a little audience participation when Lucy visits her parents and she interacts with a lady in the audience as her mother and Jim interacted with my husband as Lucy’s dad. Don’t let this put you off, the parents are not expected to do anything, other than Lucy’s ‘dad’ shook hands with Jim. If the thought of being part of the show is not for you, just avoid the front rows. I do say rows plural as it is almost theatre in the round, almost but not quite. The action takes place between two lots of seating so our characters are neatly sandwiched between their audience.
Props are minimal and mostly consist of two chairs being moved in wonderfully choreographed movements to change from being a table for two at a restaurant to a night bus to a sofa.
City Love is a gentle, subtle comedy that totally recognises how love, life and relationships grow and change.
With tickets available at a bargain price of £10 each and the very warmest of welcomes from the staff as we arrived at the second floor where the theatre is located City Love is a terrific choice to take a date, who knows how many more new City Loves could be formed in the duration of this play.
Please note, there is no interval, but there is a bar upstairs and the audience are allowed to take their drinks into the auditorium.
City Love is at The Old Joint Stock until Saturday 17th March. Book Tickets here: oldjointstock.co.uk/whats-on/city-love
This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie was invited to by The Old Joint Stock to see City Love on behalf of #BrumHour.