Some Kind of Bliss
Trafalgar Studios 2
On opening night, Samuel Adamson must have had what he would regard as his dream audience for this solo show. Its protagonist, Rachel is a youngish female hack from Islington who writes profiles of stars and their homes. So, give or take a little, were many of her guests.
Her story is ostensibly of a trip to interview Lulu for the Daily Mail, at her swanky home in Greenwich. In fact, using music as a kind of Proustian theme, Some Kind of Bliss starts as a walk through Docklands and ends up being one through the men in Rachel's life.
For 75 minutes, the yuppie tracks back as far as her 11 year old self and immortal Uncle Stevie, a not quite pop star who led a tribute band Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Croydon before dying at 41, an early victim of AIDS; and forward to the three men who shaped a day that moves from the sublime to the ridiculous in minutes.
With David Bowie very much Top of the Pops on musical Memory Lane, the much loved Stevie gave Rachel her first taste of adult life. He was soon superseded by boring Geoffrey, her history teacher husband but only after her fling with trendy Felix, recently revisited.
The real action though centres on the walk from London Bridge to Greenwich and the low lives that coloured it. First, a youngster selling space, next the beautiful bit of rough who might have been under age but also has probably given the play its title and finally, as a complete contrast, a Chinese Mr Whippy.
This ice cream salesman moonlights (or daylights in this case) as a mugger who not once but twice beat poor Rachel up, and allows us to hear a quick burst of Lulu's finest, Boom Bang a Bang. This double assault had the effect of turning the surprisingly liberal journalist (Daily Mail?) into a self-confessed ethnocentric Nazi but more enterprisingly a killer joyrider.
Some Kind of Bliss is a modern horror story of London life, far closer to this writer's Southwark Fair than his current stage version of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother. It is primarily distinguished by good acting and very high production values that owe much to the directing of Toby Frow, designer of the week Lucy Osborne's adventurous set - she also worked on tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! - and Emma Chapman's atmospheric lighting, that would have been even better had she taken more care to avoid blinding those sitting in the corners.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher