Sally Abbott’s new play, produced by Frantic Assembly and co-directed by company chief Scott Graham and Kathy Burke, comes straight from the heart. That sensitivity and sincerity counts for something in an otherwise flawed piece.
I Think We Are Alone is, quite transparently, a paean to the human need to connect. Six characters – two estranged sisters, a single mother and her high-achieving son, a lonely cab driver and his terminally ill wife – stand on stage and slowly tell their lightly intertwined stories. Suffering, sad, they all need someone to talk to.
Arresting and affecting, sure, but the problem is that these stories mostly move forward in monologue chunk after monologue chunk, only occasionally slipping into clunky conversation. Perhaps that’s a reflection of each character’s isolation, but even so, it’s theatrically tedious.
Burke and Graham’s production doesn’t help. It’s slick and stylish – Morgan Large’s set consists of four translucent partitions, wheeled ceaselessly around the stage – but it’s too harsh, too clean, too cool. Paul Keogan’s shifting lights and Ella Wahlstrom’s ambient soundscapes can’t save it.
There are some misjudged performances, however Charlotte Bate – impressive in Blackthorn by Charley Miles, and impressive here – convinces as a care-worker kinder to others than she is to herself. Caleb Roberts and Polly Frame are also impressive as a reluctant scholar and a scared HR manager respectively. Despite these solid performances, this is a sterile staging of a structurally static play.