Eight

Eight becomes Six at the NNT


Eight – or Six as the case may be – describes itself as a portrait of modern society, exploring the lives of a generation where everything is acceptable according to a single universal illness: apathy. The six subjects on show – a prostitute, an ex-squaddie, a dreamer, a traveller, an adulteress and a gallery owner – each deliver their disparate stories and unveil the tragedies therein.

eight

All actors hit their cues and deliver their respective soliloquys with obvious skill, happily ensuring that there are no particular lowlights, only particular highlights.

True to form, it is Sam Hayward – the second speaker: Mr. Traveller – who commands the performance plaudits. Flitting organically from comic anecdote to crushingly personal revelation – all the time helming a remarkable sense of physicality – he is electric from beginning to end.

Having said that however, while there can be little fair critique of the performances themselves, the sheer ceaseless drama of several segments proves suffocating. A soliloquy is an inherently intense experience for everyone involved – speaker and listener – therefore 10/15 minutes of straight emotional drama delivered in such a way can be tiring.

The most entertaining segments are those that break the drama up with a sprinkle of irreverence, helping to craft the character and ground their story; drama is bad company for drama.

Set in the Nottingham New Theatre’s Rehearsal Room, Eight certainly feels intimate. However, its stifling atmosphere– typified by blacked-out windows and cramped triangular staging – serves only to compound the gagging drama of it all. There is no respite, visually or aurally, and ‘breaks’ are not frequent enough to alleviate the general impression of legitimate discomfort.

It often feels like accidentally walking into a group therapy session where you are not allowed to speak.

This is not to discredit the stories themselves however. All feel refreshingly unique – while sharing underlying themes to craft a dash of unity – and reverberate in their own ways, whether that be socially or emotionally.

Insofar as fashioning a societal cross-section of modernity goes, Eight is a mostly accomplished production. Albeit one that could have benefitted from more care with it’s structure.