24 October 2017

All the Little Lights at Arcola Theatre was uncomfortable but necessary

The promise of "truly extraordinary ad moving theatre" is always going to appeal to me as will visiting Arcola Theatre so All The Little Lights was definitely a show for me.

This was in Studio 2, in the basement, and my unreserved seat was a miserly £17.

This was a standard theatre-after-work day which meant trains from Teddington, Vauxhall, Highbury and Islington and then to Dalston Kingsland. The food and drink before the theatre were standard too. The ease of access and front of house facilities make Arcola Theatre an attractive place to visit.

I was, unusually, not the first person in the queue for Studio 2 but the group in front of me chose seats in the second row so I was able to secure my usual place in the middle of the front row. Everything was going according to the well rehearsed plan.

All The Little Lights was a coming of age story with a lot of bite. Three young girls meet up at their usual place on some railway sidings. It's a celebration and one of the presents is a Frozen Onsie which is well received. The conversations are all very early teenage girlie.

The conversations change when the youngest girl mentions that a young man in a the fish and chip was showing some interest in her. The other two girls reacted swiftly and seriously to this saying that she should keep away from him but without saying why. Soon the world of Frozen onsies was forgotten and we were mired in sexual abuse. It got very dark very quickly and would have been very difficult to watch had the story not been so real and the characters so convincing. It was uncomfortable to watch but the story needed to be told.

All The Little Lights was less a coming of age, more a death of childhood. I loved it for showing me important things in an honest, if brutal, way.

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