Monday, 5 June 2017


Nel is a tiny joy. It’s about a young, introverted female foley artist trying to get out more, basically, and I liked it because, well, because it was really sweet and well-made and well-performed.

And actually I think a lot smarter than you might at first think: there are complicated things you can read about how form and content were matching up  – a girl obsessed with fake sound, attempts to fake an identity in order to fit in (geddit) – and I think there’s a lot of quite progressive, supportive, useful stuff about gender here – it was really nice to see an all-female company telling a story in which they hadn’t felt culturally cajoled (culturjoled?) into putting men into their narrative.

There’s a really nice bit where Nel struggles to put a coat on for ages and they use physical theatre to keep pulling her coat on and off that I thought sort of beautifully explored the way that peculiar quotidian anxieties can become magnified until they become enormous.

It’s sort of, I guess, a shame that they don’t push the story further and try to see what their particular forms can best express about this character –  they sort of just accept that they’ve got an arc to tell and that a thumbnail will help them get to the end of it and so they go after telling it. And that’s fine, I guess. I think these really talented people could probably have figured it out. But it’s fine.

Because at it's heart it’s a bunch of fun singing and some really innovative lighting and I’m a sucker for some foley artistry (“a bird! with rubber gloves! WHAT!?”).

And Scratchworks were beaming so much at the bows that I beamed with them, so basically, despite myself, I was charmed: how lovely to have a nice time with a bunch of people in a room, you know.

Nel is part of the magnificent, ludicrously brilliant, totally wondrous Incoming Festival at the New Diorama Theatre (who were very nice to me when I arrived soggy and stressed). The festival showcases emerging companies from across the country all this week.

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