The Lonely Man

La Boheme. By Jamie Jewell. 22 Feb 2012

There is something captivating about the eccentricity of a person who differs from socially accepted norms. The way they move; the way they look; the way they interact, grabs our attention and we watch, fixated with interest we cannot explain - nor attempt to. The lonely man, created by Jamie Jewell, has one such character. Jewell’s character is so odd, reclusive and solitary, obsessed with objects and bemoaning his past. This character is drawn from Jewell’s own struggles, periods of depression and difficulty finding himself after coming to terms with his childhood past.

In this character driven narrative cabaret it isn’t really clear whether the songs are a device for the story or if the story is a device for the songs – they mesh so seamlessly together. Jewell’s lonely man is alienated however, and is somewhat at risk of alienating parts of his audience. I absolutely loved this show, but its intriguing tapestry was so rich for me that it seems possible it could just have easily not been to another person’s tastes. Like Coriander, it’s either loved or hated – never in-between.

Creator Jamie Jewell and director David Jobling have together cast a very skilful hand and eye over the balance of the action in this work. Most of the time it is overplayed, yet it never seems unrealistic. There was a section in the middle of the piece which sadly digressed into too much slapstick, but the metaphors were always beautifully simple, only slightly cryptic, and always left lingering questions – a heavy suitcase full of memories; a sad faced mask revealed, predicting the ending to the show perhaps – all were beautifully delivered.

Jewell gives a gentle rendition of songs such as The Show Must Go On, Where is Love and Over the Rainbow, and does so beautifully. Musical director and accompanist Carol Young plays wonderfully. In an interview about the show, Jewell reveals that his cabaret “asks people to consider the consequences of their actions and the impact that can have on their lives and those around them.” He asks the audience to choose either a triangle or square of card on entrance to the auditorium, which they do without consideration to its consequences. This choice determines the ending – happy or sad. Life or suicide. I chose the triangle, and The Lonely Man took his life. Now I can’t help but feel responsible.

This is a great production, and highly recommended viewing in this year’s Cabaret Fringe.

Paul Rodda

When: 23 Feb, 28 Feb, 13 Mar
Where: La Boheme