Camden Fringe 2011
Heart-warming performances from two individuals who help each other rediscover their lost identity and happiness.
Whilst at a birthday party, Leila decides to escape the hype and seeks solace in back room with Kyle, the owner of the venue, drowning his sorrows with alcohol. Soon, they start talking about their life, loves and their dreams, which seem to have vanished away. Together, they help each other through a difficult time in their lives but do they find what they have been longing and searching for?
Skillman creates a short masterpiece where the running theme is that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Never mind the expectations or the pressures of others. The concept of music is used an unlikely ally that brings these two characters together with Kyle and his love for the guitar and Leila’s love for song writing. Pleasing others rather than pleasing yourself is also a recurring theme with Leila whose previous birthday parties have been organised according to her loved ones tastes and now she has planned a birthday party for a co worker she does not even like. The concept is quite realistic in today’s harsh world where we will settle for second best and are nice to people at work that we would normally ignore in actuality. So, Skillman creates a likeable character that can be easily related to.
Non – appreciation of family love is another aspect that is explored through Leila’s memories who realises that her past birthdays, brought her happiness, even if her parents, at times, suffocated her with their love and expected more of her then. But, still birthdays only represent your past mistakes and hold nothing new for the future. Expectations have now been lost and Leila lacks an individual identity as she knows there is more to being 29 years of age but she does not quite know how to get there. Reaching the age of 30 becomes the new 40 as Skillman recreates an age of the beginning of a mid – life crisis where one looks at their past and does not know how to move forward. Anyone can be a saviour, in any shape or form. Leila and Kyle barely know each other and yet they reveal truths about themselves that would be normally shared between close friends.
However, the play could be improved by going deeper into the life of Kyle. From the beginning, the audience knows that it is Leila who will dominate the performance as she is the one who starts a somewhat random yet comical conversation with this handsome stranger. We hear that he has a family but their description is left to the imagination of the audience whilst we are not told full details of why he is in the back room, with a selection of alcohol. But, perhaps Skillman wanted to create Leila as the star of the show and Kyle was just present for listening purposes. Perhaps, Leila’s story was the one that really needed to be told.
Staging was minimal for this production but this conversational viewing felt very intimate in a room that held a small audience. Both actors’ performances have to be admired as they changed their tones and their emotions to suit the changing pace of the play. I especially liked the comedy that was bestowed amongst this production even though it was clear that Leila and Kyle were both currently in places, in their life, which they did not want to be. It was this refreshing sense of humour that encourages the rest of us to always have a brighter outlook on life, even when times get tough.