“You’re lucky. I’m always conscious of myself —in my mind. Painfully conscious.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit
“Nobody ever gets to know anybody. We’re, all of us, sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own lonely skins for as long as we live on this earth.”
― Tennessee Williams, The Fugitive Kind
First performed briefly in 2018 under the title Tales From Behind The Twitching Curtain, Rosalind Blessed’s Lullabies For The Lost returns to the Old Red Lion Theatre as part of a double bill with The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People. Directed by Zoe Ford Burnett, Lullabies broaches the subject of mental health through the issues eight people face. The things they are up against are universally recognisable – though it has to be said that some of them are better at ‘hiding’ their issues than others.
Sitting within a white room with a locked exit, the group must be candid about what troubles them and how it has affected their lives. While their situation on the surface represents a therapy session, later events suggests their solipsistic environment, a ‘purgatory’ of their own creation. Once they have their epiphany, ‘Ma’ (Hildegard Neil) will allow them to leave. But being candid about one’s past is no guarantee of catharsis or closure. For some, revisiting the source of their troubles is akin to picking away at scars that have partially healed, leading to pain as acute as fresh incisions…
While some writers take a cerebral approach to narrative and worldbuilding (and dazzle us with their literary feats), there’s an authenticity in Blessed’s writing that can’t be faked – born of experience and personal reflection. With no topic too grim, too unsettling or embarrassing, Lullabies gives a voice to the unsayable and has insights to spare about the human condition.
Through Lullabies we see that everyone is fighting battles that are invisible to the human eye. Much like the façade of buildings one finds in west London that belie the minimal support that props them up, many people are more fragile than at first appear to be. It only takes a modicum of time with others to expose the folly of keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’.
I defy anyone not to be moved by Lullabies or relate to some – if not all – the characters.
For a more detailed review of the play, go to: https://breaking-the-fourth-wall.com/2018/12/21/tales-from-behind-the-twitching-curtain-old-red-lion-theatre-preview/
© Michael Davis 2020
Lullabies For The Lost runs at Old Red Lion Theatre on 15th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 29th, 31st January and 1st February 2020 at 7:30pm