Brighton Fringe 2019
Nigel Osner is a beautiful and gentle performer that took hold of the tragedy of navigating love and connection in later years of life and played the strings of comedy. There is a vulnerability to each of the seven characters we meet in which Osner delivers the poetic text through monologue and song with some unassuming reflections in between. Osner is a lyricist, writer, actor and performer with finesse and charm.
This is a 60 minute solo show in the Sweet Werks 2 venue in its second year. The venue is intimate and just the right environment for this show. Osner begins with a poetic rendition to set the scene inviting us to bear witness to the lives of seven people and the challenges they face as the years increase. During the opening unit we also get to meet Osner and connect with the emotive canvas he personally brings to the work of art he will be creating. This is how the show will begin and end by our own connection with this solo performer and our own relationship with the existential crisis.
First up is a character in which Osner weaves a crude story of discovery and naivety with the notion of a supermarket online dating service that will ultimately trick anyone wanting true connection with dishonesty and lies. We meet an ignored and discounted French man around the notions of disability and a designer who entertains his guest with revelations over tea about the pain of being used and the impact of age. In the transitions between each character Osner sets and relates the theme to personal stages of life. We head in to health struggles and life threatening illnesses and into a European trip with a the wrong companion. Osner raises the all important question of the expectation of working for longer until death takes the choice and the tragedy of identity in this growing expectation punctuated by a story of Marlene Dietrich. The show ends with an American older woman and her addiction denial with younger men.
The writing has an eloquent pace that Osner delivers with digestible timing and care. The poetic flow of the writing allows Osner to recount each characters stories with emotive storytelling moving between the tragic and ludicrous. Osner uses many theatrical devices to change and step into role from costumes such as scarfs, jackets and jewellery to accents of Germany, French, America and the West Midlands paying specific attention to the difference in speed of delivery. One note was that the opening scene was quiet but Osner more than made up for this as the connection grew with the audience. Osner took great care to embody each character through movement and delicate gesture which lured us in to each of their stories.
Occasional lighting changes and music additions were subtle and added to the emotive moments to increase meaning. This flowed with the nature of the work and performer, not over bearing but gentle, tragic and comedic, standing slightly on its own as an investigative vulnerable piece of cabaret storytelling. The impact on the audience was a wonder to watch as people guilty laughed and expelled sighs of association to our ageing crisis and the ultimate changes in companionship, love and connection. This is a beautiful piece of solo work of an excellent quality.