Ikaria is a moving capture of two young people’s lives in college over a semester. The play recreates for us young love and passion. However, a cloud of loneliness and sadness lurks over our lead Simon. The protagonists’ choices may shock and surprise you. We share the intimacy of being in their bedroom in the University halls, but all is not revealed to us until the last scene.
Playwright Philippa Lawford’s debut play, IKARIA, has won one of 5 runner-up awards for the Ambassador Theatre Group Playwrights’ Prize 2022, in association with Platform Presents and Time Out. Her reflections during covid on loneliness, isolation and clinging to a personal relationship in the time of crisis are present in the characters’ ruminations. A close observation of the challenges and realities of living in the university halls, where the dryer does not work, and a cup doubles up to be an ashtray, is funny and familiar.
James Wilbraham’s portrayal of Simon is honest, capturing his naivety, melancholy, and brooding. Amaia Naima Aguinaga’s portrayal of 18-year-old Mia is endearing. She is enthusiastic and exuberant about being the first to go to college from her family. Both actors portray their points of view with great chemistry.
Sound Designer Laurie Blundell has made unconventional choices for music. Upbeat for the mental breakdown and classical music that left us churning. The light and sound by lighting designer Shane Gill are faithful accompaniments for deepening the shifting moods of our protagonist. The blinking computer screen of loud, violent video games in the death of the night, the flickering lights while Simon confronts his deepest fears.
Before watching the show, the play requires content warnings for blood, self-harm, and suicide. They did organize chits with emails and phone numbers to the Samaritans, Campaign against living miserably, and Papyrus – for people under 35. However, the social factors of deteriorating mental health were missing from the play.
Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil
Reviewed: 10th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★