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Brighton Fringe 2010

Intimate Histories

Jake Oldershaw

Venue: Nightingale Theatre


Low Down

Choose from a menu of stories and then be led away to experience a performance for one in the Nightingale Theatre.


Jake Oldershaw’s production Intimate Histories is more than one play – it is in fact about 6 plays – each 10 minutes long. Sitting in the Grand Central bar you are asked to choose which short musical you would like to see, and then you wait in nervous anticipation to be led away from your friends into who knows what.

The idea of intimate performances – a one on one theatrical experience has very much taken off in recent years, with work such as Internal from Belgian company Ontroerend Goed asking an awful lot from their audience and leaving some feeling quite betrayed. It is therefore a delicate balance which must be struck – making the audience member feel comfortable and unthreatened, whilst performing or singing in Jake’s case, with the utmost sincerity – knowing that every missed note and vocal tic will be spotted.  Jake achieves this balance perfectly. The tale I chose was a love story, where I became the focus – the stand in for a lost lover, and it would have been so easy to feel embarrassed were it not for the total commitment exhibited by Jake. 

I didn’t flinch as he sat, inches from me, his crystal clear voice soaring, recounting this fisherman’s heartbreaking tale. Nor did I mind when I was asked to lay my head on his chest as he sang of lovemaking on a beach. And when asked to dance, I positively leapt up – eager to be sang to and spun around under a crazily whirling mirror ball.

Intimate Histories is surprising and unique, and as many reviews as there are stories could be written about it. I wish I had been able to experience more of the tales, as I know from friends who chose a different option that their experience was as bawdy as mine was gentle.

I only wish that the show had been longer – impractical I know (the revenue from performing to one person at a time must be small enough) but I enjoyed my time with Jake and his pianist so much that I would happily have spent an hour or two lying on the floor or twirling around the room.


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