Listening is a profound piece of theatre currently on at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe Festival until the 18th of August. Written and performed by Nellie McQuinn, it is a one woman play about a terrorist attack which occurs on an underground in an unknown city. McQuinn wrote the piece to pay homage to a friend she lost in a similar attack. For me, McQuinn nailed it and gave a performance which was so heartfelt that she left me feeling both moved and absolutely stunned.
The set design was minimal but really didn’t need much more than what was on stage. The back wall of the black box theatre is set with posters of victims with the word “missing” written above their photos much like the gates which surrounded Ground Zero after 9/11. There is also a hospital bed and a chair. The sounds of London tube announcements are also playing as a soundtrack when suddenly we get a flash of the underground’s headlights intermeshed with video clips of the daily hustle and bustle of commuters at various tube stations .
I thought the writing was excellent and well structured. As our main character, Annie, recounts the horrific events that happened to her on the day of the attack, she is also enthusiastically telling us the romantic plot lines of the ever so popular commuter novel “One Day” by David Nicholls. It is used as a sort of connective tissue throughout the monologue and serves as light relief towards the end of the piece after we’ve had to endure McQuinn’s very detailed description of all the horrors Annie has had to face. This is just a testament to the outstanding job McQuinn has done in writing such a truthful and poignant piece.
McQuinn is captivating as Annie and manages to hold all of our attention for the entire performance. Veronica Quilligan’s direction and the lighting helps to maintain the level of intensity needed to effectively perform such an emotionally charged piece. If I were you, I wouldn’t let this one pass you by!
Listening opened at Tristan Bates on 13th August and runs until 18th August 2012 as part of the Camden Fringe. Nearest tube station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly, Northern) http://www.listeningtheplay.com/tickets.html BOX OFFICE 0207 240 6283