'Between The Cracks'
Soho Theatre, London
There is a wonderful intimacy that Soho Theatre Downstairs offers that creates an interesting vibe for audiences as soon as you walk through the doors. The space is a bit of a Tardis in that it gives both the impression of small but big giving you a fascinating first impression making you feel comfortable and at ease.
Between The Cracks from Sarah Ward has already gone down a storm during this year Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it's not hard to see why. Seeing a show so fresh from a Fringe run is always special particularly if like me you decided to give the Fringe a miss this year.
The opening song is belted out from the back of the room and hits a joyful but somber note that underpins the whole show. Depression, drugs, sense of self, loneliness, sexuality, politics, and mental health are all themes that Ward's character touches on with care mixed with a total disregard of being overly sensitive about the subject matter.
Perhaps one of the most poignant moments came when she asked the audience if they were on medication. This was neither invasive or rude and Alana waited a moment or two before rewording her questions to if anyone was 'self-medicating'. Being that we are in the middle of Soho this question is more rhetorical and was a touching moment that added to the intimacy of the space and the show Ward has created.
Alana is like the inner voice you wish you had. The pseudo-confidence gives the character a sense of invincibility but never takes away her vulnerability. How could audiences not open up to a woman who is naked and painted blue?
The inhibitions that she displays bring you closer to her and does, at times, make you want to participate a bit more. Alana's strength lies in the audience interaction that she has and could have benefited with more of it.
Getting the balance right for this is a science but Ward mastered it with one of the highlights being the woman she picked to come up and be her piano player. The bit worked too well but it was the comment Alana made to the woman as she fell off the stage that stole the show.
It difficult to try and talk about crudeness in a show that has a performer naked and painted blue but there were a few moments that seemed unnecessary. The vulgarity was not that funny but perhaps it was a strange deflection to the brutal honesty that Yana Alana tries to offers her audience.
'...all themes that Ward's character touches on with care mixed with a total disregard of being overly sensitive about the subject matter.'
These moments aside it is hard to find fault in the show and Ward's ability as a performer is unquestionable. Ward’s care to detail is incredible and the character is likable, relatable and is forthright in a way that is refreshing.
The show was an hour long but felt longer in a good way. The staged jokes worked well and added to the 'chaos' without making it cheap or forced. Both Louise Goh (piano/vocals) and Bec Matthews (percussion/vocals) added great depth to the show providing wonderful foils to Ward's temperamental diva Yana Alana who, by the end, really needed a big hug.