If I Were Me – Soho Theatre until 26th March

★★★★

Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer

Highly successful at the Edinburgh Fringe last year If I were Me is part of the Soho Rising Season at the Soho Theatre and I could definitely see why. This quirky, sometimes baffling, bemusing and thoroughly entertaining seventy-five minutes is a great addition to the season.

If I Were Me Preview by Antler Theatre at Camden Peoples Theatre Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015, Richard@rwdavenport.co.uk, 07545642134

Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport

The bafflement started when we took our seats, there were tennis balls spasmodically placed on chairs, I must admit I chose a seat without one but secretly later wished I hadn’t. Before us stands Phillip excellently played by Nasi Voutsas holding a limp plant. He is attempting to record a voicemail message and let’s face it how many of us take several attempts at recording a friendly but cool message and never quite achieving it? Joining him is Daniela Pasquini (Colleague 1/Hannah/Paola) and Daniel Foxsmith (Colleague 2/Trevor Rovert) Phillip appears to be Mr Ordinary or rather Mr Cellophane no-one sees him or acknowledges, despite any valid opinions or suggestions he gives.

 

If I Were Me Preview by Antler Theatre at Camden Peoples Theatre Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015, Richard@rwdavenport.co.uk, 07545642134

Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport

We see Phillip struggle and effectively have a meltdown when this ongoing day-to-day life and humiliation continues. Then we attend a conference and are introduced to entrepreneur and marketing guru Trevor Rovert (Daniel Foxsmith). Now we are all familiar with over-confident, arrogant, egotistical spouters of life changing affirmations  and Foxsmith manages to get the participation and dare I say it loathing of the audience whipped up pretty quickly. This is the scene where we get to use the tennis balls by aiming them at Trevor or rather Phillip.

If I Were Me Preview by Antler Theatre at Camden Peoples Theatre Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015, Richard@rwdavenport.co.uk, 07545642134

Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport

What is immensely clever about the writing of this piece is the intricate layers to it. I’ve already mentioned I was baffled by some of the scenes and will not presume to say I understood all of it, however that’s exactly why I found it fascinating, as I’m sure that if you ask the audience each person will have read something else into it. For me, if you looked at all the characters, each do have their insecurities. Why does Hannah constantly apply lipstick and only to remove it with post-it notes? Why does Trevor always carry a suitcase, is it because whilst exuding confidence he has an inordinate amount of “baggage” that he doesn’t want people to see? Phillip aspires to be just like Trevor or Hannah and for a time he succeeds. Eventually the realisation that he has become a clone of a rather loathsome person losing, his personality and like-ability thankfully slowly dawns.

Now of course I may have interpreted this completely wrong, but the fact remains that all the cast are extremely talented, even the smallest of roles performed by Merce Ribot, whom I confess I didn’t understand her part at all. Only thinking that she may have been acting as Phillip’s conscience?

It’s on until Saturday and would recommend you catch it. It is funny, smart, innovative and baffling and I absolutely loved it. It enthused me to seek out more by this theatre company called Antler Theatre – so watch out for them they are going to be big!

If I Were Me – Soho Theatre until 26th March

★★★★

Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer

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