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Abandon review at Lyric Hammersmith, London – ‘energetic and affectionate’

Nkhanise Phiri and Tiwalade Ibirogba Olulode in Abandon at Lyric Hammersmith, London. Photo: Dan Patrick Hipkin

Under the mentorship of one of the UK’s most prominent producing theatres, the Lyric Ensemble is a group of aspiring actors without any formal training.

Abandon, the Ensemble’s first show, is an inviting play on the personalities and connections that form between young creatives.

Devised by the company with playwright Laura Lomas acting as dramaturg, Abandon is the disarming result of nine months’ guidance from the Lyric’s director of young people, Nicholai La Barrie, artistic director Sean Holmes and its artistic associates. Under the direction of Anne-Louise Sarks the actors present themselves within the programme: arriving for rehearsals, expressing doubts to and about each other, fooling around and slowly becoming a collective.

Rosie Elnile’s set is a bare rehearsal room, meaning there’s nothing to distract from some initial problems with audibility. Once they can be heard, however, the cast’s charisma wins out. The short, disjointed scenes build up a sense of each of the 15 members’ character and place within the group with infectious humour.

In naturalistic exchanges, they navigate a world of anxiety over university and drama school applications, the daunting prospects of owning a house as millennials, racial profiling and their hopes for the future. Their clear familiarity with each other’s habits and histories informs everything they do, from slow warm-ups to chucking an apple between them to unwind.

Kate Marlais’ music matches the pulsing and jagged energy of the performers, and alongside moments of solo dance is a group get-down to Azealia Banks’ 212 which epitomises Abandon. The company let go of themselves to the beat, each dancing in their individual messy ways.

 

Verdict
An energetic, affectionate tribute to the process of theatremaking
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