Theatre Review: How My Light is Spent by Alan Harris

Alexandria Riley as Kitty and Rhodri Meilir as Jimmy (Photo courtesy of TBTL)

By Ken Powell

Time is short so I’ll come to the point: Go book tickets for this play – you only have until 24 June to see it.

This two-hander by Alan Harris is one of the quirkiest plays I’ve ever seen at Theatre by the Lake. Deep yet unfailingly funny and entertaining, it’s not so much a play as a choreographed ‘non-dance’ between the two actors themselves and the sound and lighting crew. Certainly, it’s the first time I’ve really felt that the backstage team were working as hard as the actors up front and thoroughly deserved the applause pointed in their direction at the end of the production. Personally, I think they should be made to come onto the stage to take a bow!

On paper this play shouldn’t work though. Two welsh actors, one playing a phone sex worker and the other a lonely doughnut restaurant employee who lives with his mum, start to talk sex on the phone. He starts to disappear, starting with his hands, while she hopes to take a degree in psychology one day and can’t cope with the idea of ‘love’. It could get, deep; it might even be funny; it can’t be both.

And yet it is – probably in part thanks to the actors. Rhodri Meilir (Jimmy) is brilliant as the hapless, awkward 34-year-old who somehow has a childlike charm. Alexandria Riley (Kitty) is cute, spunky yet painfully fragile as she navigates a dubious world for which she is not really made. As they relate each other’s tales, adding their corrections and additions like any couple who know each other well, and act out their mutual story, we truly ended up caring about what happens to these characters. We’re not disappointed when we find out.

I came away pondering what it means to suffer loneliness and isolation. Kitty, it seems, has a secret she doesn’t want to talk about. I expected something big which would touch a nerve with those who have also experienced great pain in their lives, but when revealed it is apparent she could actually represent anybody. I wondered how these two characters would have survived something like the Second World War when they can’t handle life as it is for millions of people. But that’s the point – how do any of us survive? This is the dilemma of the ‘post-modern generation’ and it is a definite conundrum.

So, go see it for a giggle or go for a ponder on life – but definitely go. Hurry though. The light for this production will soon be spent.

‘How My Light is Spent’ runs in the Studio until 24 June. Book tickets online at www.theatrebythelake.com or call the box office on 017687 74411. 

Alexandria Riley as Kitty (Photo courtesy of TBTL)