Written and Performed by Lowri Jenkins
St Donat’s Arts Centre, 10 October 2013
Music: Mat Martin.
Director/Choreography: Jennifer Fletcher
To London Love Me is writer and performer Lowri Jenkins’ debut solo performance in Wales. Originally commissioned by Rich Mix, the piece was first developed as part of the National Theatre Wales Waleslab Pollinate project in 2012. This is Jenkins’ first work as an independent artist.
The performance is a series of monologues, movement and song in which Jenkins tries to capture the isolation of a young woman moving to London. Based on her own experiences, she observes the behavior of those living around her and her feeling of alienation from her home in South Wales. Rather than express this through story, Jenkins communicates these feelings through a series of snap-shots of life. There are one-sided telephone conversations with her mother and surreal conversations with a supermarket check-out till. The later takes on a hallucinatory sense as automated instructions blend with the friendly words that the young woman yearns to hear. These snap-shots are mixed with movement pieces performed to discordant sounds. In this way, Jenkins captures the isolation of travelling on the underground despite being surrounded by many people.
The performance begins with discordant sounds and flashing lights. Jenkins flits across the stage, embodying the disorientation of London life. A metronome ticks, jarring the senses as she holds a one-sided conversation with her mother. But it takes a while to understand what is happening; the ‘yes’, ‘no’ soon becomes tiresome; later, the stage lights flash a little too long, crossing the line from disorientating to irritating. Some judicious shaving of these elements would add to the performance.
One of the most intriguing elements of the show is a love affair with a lemon. Jenkins performs monologues dressed as a lemon and invites the audience to feel sorry for the neglected fruit which has fallen from a supermarket display. It’s not until later that it becomes clear what the unidentifiable fruit or vegetable is, but Jenkins pushes the boundaries of credibility when she falls in love with the lonely lemon, using it to masturbate. Any symbolism the lemon is meant to represent is lost as the audience squirms at its savage consummation.
The performance deliberately jerks on; Jenkins performs a song, accompanied by haunting guitar music beautifully played by Mat Martin. There is no answer, no climax. We end where we began, with a telephone monologue to mother. Jenkins successfully manages to capture and convey a sense of alienation, isolation and confusion about London life to her audience. Next time, warn us about the flashing lights.