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Theatre Review: The Lounge @ Soho Theatre

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The latest work from Inspector Sands, The Lounge, is a Brechtian exploration of rebellion against aging as we’re expected to. The play follows Marsha Hewitt (Lucinka Eisler) as she navigates what she plans to be her last day on earth.

Set in the waiting room (or lounge, if you will) of a care home, the action swerves between generations, times, and locations as we watch the elderly residents attempt to lead (and end) their lives on their own terms, whilst being silenced by those who came before them.

Giulia Innocenti is truly extraordinary; in mere moments, we see her transform between characters and watch her age in front of our eyes, with such conviction and precision – it is truly admirable.

This in part is the strongest offering the production has to offer; both Giulia and Lucinka embody old age with their entirety, so much so, that the transitions are unrecognisable and incredibly rewarding. Nothing feels reminiscent, and each role is distinct and fully realised – a true joy to watch.

Conversely, Dennis Herdman (who rounds off our trio of performers) doesn’t quite make it past the finish line. In contrast to the work of his cast-mates, there are glaring similarities where each character pours into the next, and the end-product feels murky.

Beyond the individual actors, sections of the piece seemed messy and lacking in thought and rehearsal. At times, performers failed to make their marks and change in-time, which is especially disappointing, as when working within Brechtian ideology, taking the time to swap characters in front of the audience can be used as an important and effective pause in between the different presentations of character. Sadly, this doesn’t have the same effect when it’s done through a sprint and a sloppy quick-change.

Despite this, the 80-minute long production rests if not completely on the performers' shoulders; they seldom leave the stage, and craft the environment around them through live soundscape and restructuring of the staging. This is a piece that truly puts its faith in its actors, and for the most part deservedly.  

At its crux, The Lounge is darkly comedic look at how our society tends to write our endings for us. Whilst it may not be as hard-hitting as you would expect of the subject matter, it never feels unfulfilled in what it was going for.

For more information and tickets, click here.




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