(I Am) Nobody's Lunch

Steve Cosson and The Civilians
Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman
Soho Theatre
(2006)

How do we know what we know when nobody knows if everyone else is lying and when someone or something wants to have you for lunch? New York-based Fringe First 2006 winners The Civilians bring their unique blend of musical political satire straight from a month in Edinburgh to a late-evening September slot in Dean Street.

This is the kind of high octane, high class one-off which finds a natural home at the Soho. The show is written and directed by Steve Cosson, who compiled the dialogue from real-life interviews with members of the American public, including a series of increasingly bizarre telephone conversations with every Jessica Lynch in the phone book to ask them what they knew about what really happened to their famous namesake and a day in the life of the sinisterly-named Department for Homeland Security.

Cosson's script is brilliantly complemented by Michael Friedman's music and lyrics, which tackle subjects as diverse as "why all the Christians sing", a darkly comic domestic violence piece and the heart-rending tale of Sally who died in an alley.

The cast are edgy, good-looking, brilliantly comic actors of exceptional talent. The girls stand out in particular. Lexy Fridell is a subtle character actress possessed of a singing voice which moves the audience from laughter to tears in a moment; flame-haired Caitlin Miller is an American Ronnie Ancona and so much more. Of the boys, Matt Dellapina provided the only (non-laughter-induced) tear of the evening with his song of Schrodinger's Cat, a song of love out of focus and cats in the fog.

At the heart of (I Am) Nobody's Lunch is the fear of the man in the street in the aftermath of the horrors of 9/11, the Iraq war and the London bombings, a fear which, according to The Citizens, leads us to fixate on the news but makes us incapable of separating political truth from mass hysteria and public concerns from private obsessions.

In their various incarnations, The Civilians show that, despite the outward show of global solidarity, ordinary life goes on and we remain fundamentally self-centred and self-interested. (I Am) Nobody's Lunch is political satire at the sharp end, delivered with biting, intelligent tongue-in-cheek sincerity. In an innovative (and very shrewd) move on the part of the Soho, ticket prices increase as the run goes on - an incentive to get in early, but if you wait till the last night it'll still be worth every penny and more.

6-9,11-16,18-23 September 2006 at 9pm

Louise Hill