Adams is a man who feels he has lost everything, himself, his faith, his hope. He sits on a bench in a dilapidated cemetery that is about to be redeveloped, contemplating his life and chatting to the deceased Maurice as he tries to come to terms with who he has become. He used to be a trusted and dedicated doctor but, somewhere along the way, he realised that his ability to care was a sham and his concern for others was condescension. So he walked away from that life and became a cemetery attendant. This is a play about guilt and self-judgement, loss and rediscovery.
The vastly under-rated Matthew Kelly is wonderful as the introspective Adams. He’s haggard but still smartly dressed, a man who “never thought there was anything serious enough in the world to care about.” In talking to the dead, Adams is still hiding from the living and it’s not surprising that he lost his relationships with his daughter and her mother along the way. Despite this negativity though, Kelly gives Adams a sympathetic aspect, a feeling that the destruction of the cemetery is a catharsis that will help him heal.
Beautifully directed by Philip Franks, Losing Myself covers a host of challenging life issues in a short 20-minute monologue that is both tragic and comedic. The set, a bench with a green screen view of an old gasometer, is minimalist but perfectly judged. The occasional glimpses of the theatre itself, the stage, the lighting rigs, break the fourth wall and remind the audience of a genuine theatre experience. The quality of the filming and editing by Tristan Shepherd is excellent, making this one of the best-presented online productions so far.
The Barnes’ People series of monologues, written by Olivier Award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Peter Barnes, was originally presented on BBC Radio 3 in 1981. This first revival after 40 years was definitely worth waiting for and has lost none of its relevance in today’s turbulent world.
Available to watch from 18th February 2021 19:30 until 31st July 2021 23:55 via https://originaltheatreonline.com/productions/16/barnes-people-losing-myself-starring-matthew-kelly
Reviewer: Carole Gordon
Reviewed: 17th February 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★