Online (via The Actors Centre)
Set in a Wiltshire suburb, Declan is a contemporary ghost story, exploring isolation, fear of the outside world and the distance between two friends. As Jimbo recalls the disappearance of his best friend Declan, he is plagued by ghosts of the past, present and future, and the boundaries between the real and imagined, the dead and the living, become blurred.
Of intrigue is the relationship between Jimbo and his friend Declan – was it platonic, unconsummated, or unrequited in nature?
Alistair Hall wrote the piece and plays Jimbo. The script jumps in time and place which gives it a certain complexity and teases the audience as they try to make sense of the narrative but sometimes becomes a bit impenetrable.
It is capably directed by Queerguru favourite Alexis Gregory who provides an inventive and coherent physical language that helps with the clarity of action, something that is so important when a solo performer has to portray several characters often at the turn of a single phrase.
There is no set, no lighting except harsh fluorescent strip lights, and no sound. This ghost story did suffer from such a stripped back presentation as arguably the supernatural genre relies more heavily than any other on the careful deployment of all the technical elements of theatre to help support it in terms of atmosphere.
With that said, Declan is a surprisingly effective vehicle to explore the appalling stresses and strains that contribute to the collapse of a person’s mental health – the intimate black box, one-man presentation was always going to be quite an intense experience despite being delivered stripped back and electronically. On balance, however, the dramatic tension would have been so much more intense if the audience had not been so far removed from the action and whilst live streaming (I was charged only £3 but my appalling internet speed meant it was buffering every couple of minutes) is an interesting response in a time of pandemic it is, alas, no substitute for live theatre.
DECLAN : written and performed by Alistair Hall
Directed by Alexis Gregory
Available to view HERE
REVIEW : JONNY WARD
Jonny Ward, Queerguru Contributing EDITOR is a drama graduate but has worked backstage for many years at venues such as The ROYAL ALBERT Hall, The 02, Southbank Centre and is currently at The NATIONAL THEATRE. He lives in Hoxton, London and is delighted to check out the latest, the hottest and the downright dodgy in queer culture for Queerguru. (P.S. He is currently single) @JonnyWard360