Drama Review: ‘Thinking About Thoughts’ at The Black Box, Belfast

thinkingabtthtsStephen Donnan reviews the play ‘Thinking About Thoughts’ a new play written by Anna Leckey which recently played at The Black Box Theatre, Belfast.
“Why am I here? Why are any of us here?”
Those words sum up the essence of the masterpiece performed by Anna Leckey, Edward Richards, and Mathieu Lovelace.
These three dominated the space of the performance, they lived the words that whooshed through our minds in the voices of David Paulin, Boyd Rodgers and Anna Leckey – three individual spirits that come to a silent retreat for ten days to escape…the world? Themselves? Or to become something new?

The performance invited the audience to switch between the audio tracks that corresponded to red, green and blue (the names of the characters) and follow each story on your own, or flick back and forth. No one person in the audience took away the same experience, or the same narrative, and, in that sense, the play is a living, breathing and moving organism that cannot be described or summed up in a byline or a review.

Green – a narcissistic, social-media obsessed hashtagger, who is driven by the need to be validated through her Facebook and Instagram Likes and Retweets, yet is disturbingly wrought by the fact that she doesn’t love herself one bit.

Lecky’s graceful and ballerina-esque movements crescendo against the mental rocks of her own paranoia, and she brings the audience with her as the inability to focus her energy into her phone leads her to tug on her own hair, bite her nails, and spiral into oblivion in front of us. I must admit I was drawn to Lecky’s performance over the others, as I could identify myself in the character of Green, but that’s a whole different article.

Mathieu Lovelace is stunningly reserved yet resplendent in his portrayal of Red – an insecure, unmotivated twenty-something, who lacks self-discipline, yet wants to be appreciated for who he is. He and Lecky share the moments that matter most in the play; constantly aware of one another, yet never interacting directly or uttering a word.

The actors are left to interpret the spoken words of the writers through eye contact, breathing, and silence alone. Ed Richards is masterful, however, in his delivery and the sheer presence that he brings to the production. Every movement he makes, every look, every head movement or stretch of the arm is wringing with emotion and pain, as his character, Blue, comes to terms with a traumatic breakup that has wracked his heart with guilt.

I was captivated by the power and energy in his performance. Stealing shadows and walking along the contours of the light in a way that never overshadowed the other actors, yet allowed him to seamlessly pull the electricity out of the air and into the beads of sweat on his forehead. It was simply breathtaking to watch – to be both a part of the three flows of consciousness of the characters, yet unable to touch them or bear to see them interact with one another, lest it all come crashing down around them.

Anna Leckey has constructed what can only be described as an exquisite aquarium, that invites us to gawk at the three human trainwrecks who explore their turbulent minds before us.

I would highly recommend.

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