13 October 2012

Oh the Humanity at Soho Theatre

The Soho is one of those places that I like to go to but frequently fail to as they change their programme frequently I often find out about good shows too late to see them myself.

So I was pleased to get to Oh the Humanity having picked up some good reports via Twitter.

Oh the Humanity is a series of five scenes each showing an aspect of humanity that is dark and confusing.

First up we have a football manager who has obviously come to the end of a very difficult season and he is trying to rescue some crumbs of comfort from the disaster that he has lived through. We soon learn that his personal life has been just as bad, his wife has left him and he is struggling to survive on his own.

In one revealing line he tells us about visiting late-night supermarkets and looking at his reflection in the freezer window that brings the thought, "you've not had a bad day, that's what you look like now".

Next we see two people doing introductory videos for a dating service. Both are not far from normal and not that far from happy but, again, their masks slip a little and we see some of what they are thinking that really should have been left hidden. Things like screaming alone in the dark.

Then comes an airline PR person making an announcement following a serious plane crash that has killed all the passengers and crew. She is cringe-worthy bad at her job and makes several inappropriate comments and gestures. Again she tells us more about herself than she really should have done and we find another damaged person.

We, the audience, are involved in the next scene as a group photo is being taken of us.It is a recreation of a famous war photograph and one of the photographers speculates as to whether the picture was taken before or after the battle. She speculates in graphic detail on what the battle they may have lived through was like.

The language of the speculation shocks, as it does in the other scenes and its this inappropriateness that drags a lot of humour out of what is essentially depressing situations.

The final short scene is completely different and provides a splash of humour that highlights the misery that has gone before.

The scenes are played by just a few actors who move quickly and smoothly between the roles in a way that had me seriously doubting that they were the same people at times. All the acting was excellent. Really excellent.

Somehow the overall effect is very positive with the clumsiness of the human frailties triumphing over that dark side. A bit like a bad taste Frankie Boyle joke that should offend deeply but has you laughing instead.

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