Monday, 21 November 2016

"A Beautiful Thing" by Emma White.
The Lofthouse, The Lace Market..
This was my first visit to The Lofthouse but what a perfect venue for this play. Intimate but just big enough for the actors to communicate with audience without anyone feeling too far away or being left out. Cosy as it was for the audience, this also added that little bit of an edge for the cast, I imagine, being able to see the whites of their audiences' eyes. That though was also an advantage to them.
There was no definitive start or end to the play and this was like looking at a snapshot, no several snapshots of life artist Freddie's intimate life.
Freddie (Harry Pavlou) likes to paint beautiful bodies and faces. He is intense when he fixes himself on one of the women in the audience, keeping eye contact all the time and sitting there just drinking in the features of his subject, saying nothing until he pours a multitude of compliments on the audience member. He interacts with her, asking for her number like a big sexy chat up manoeuvre that he has perfected many times in the past.
His art dealer (Natalia Gonzalez) also invites audience participation using one male audience member to scrutinize another male member as a work of art. Some may think that being interactive in this way is embarrassing but at no time does it come across like that, which made the rest of the audience feel more comfortable.
Freddie's other past subjects tell their experiences of being painted by the artist and this is where the interesting past comes alive. Freddie is infatuated with their bodies while he is painting them but then the infatuation wanes. This also includes with life artist Peter (Callum Walker) who may or may not have had a crush on Freddie, giving rise to sexual ambiguity between the two.
With Freddie being quite a celebrity it's natural that the press wants all the gossip on Freddie and any possible relationships but the models stay tight-lipped which adds to the intrigue.
Written by Emma White initially as three monologues, these expanded to this hour long peek into Freddie and his model's lives and what they think and do. As I said it's like a snapshot, a snapshot which really made me want more to know about Freddie and his lifestyle and his models. This play could be extended further and still maintain the intensity and personal interaction between the audience and the actor. Emma White is a name to look out for.
The cast, Harry Pavlou (Freddie), Natalia Gonzalez (the art dealer), Chloe Richardson (Rachel), Jessica Lundholm (the journalist), Callum Walker (Peter), Lisa Gier (Ella) and Amy Crighton (Monica) were all hypnotising and I found myself hanging on to their every word. A wonderful attraction for any writer and actor to cast over an audience.
Produced by Darcey Graham and directed by Emma White, I find myself ever drawn in to the Nottingham New Theatre's incredibly talented people, just like Freddie draws in his models, but unlike Freddie I have no intention of my interest waning.
The music in the production enhances the whole feel of the play, as does the lighting, designed by Joe Heil.
"A Beautiful Thing" is being performed again on Tuesday night with two performances, due to popular demand for tickets, and I for one can see why this is, at the Lofthouse, Warser Gate in the Lace Market.

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