All Thumbs – International Bar Theatre – Review by C.K. MacNamara
Writer: by Lindsay J Sedgwick
Performer: Julie Lockey
29 February-4 March and 7-11 March @7pm, 2-5 March and 7-12 March @1pm
At first glance All Thumbs, the new play by Lindsay J Sedgwick, might be dismissed as simply a collection of one dimensional puns – how much material can you squeeze out of a thumb? What a misjudgement that would be!
The one-woman spectacle, performed by Julie Lockey, is a stand-up monologue of crock pot descriptions and unreliable narrations, tinged with some genuine sadness lurking under the comedic one-liners about personified toes and fingers. The whole performance is brilliantly intimate – lacking all props and with Lockey storming in with her jacket out of the dreary Monday night, it feels less like a comedy act and more like a crazed agony aunt has beaten the comic to the stage.
The story revolves around the classic ‘unreliable narrator’ archetype, told from the perspective of Lena, a sexually frustrated and recently widowed cleaner at a Frankenstein-esque laboratory. In her madness and loneliness, she ascribes personalities to every disembodied toe, thumb and ear around her. As a result, she sees it as only humane to liberate a preserved thumb from its formaldehyde prison.
Ranting at the audience about the rights of fingers and toes to live their own lives, the nutty Lena describes her attempt at crafting of a fairy tale romance from the reverse-engineering of the stubby appendage, and the resulting test-tube man being kept hostage by her as a surrogate husband.
Sedgwick and Lockey juggle a charming and simply fun performance – Sedgwick writing keeps the tempo of Lockey’s portrayal of the nutty Lena to an upbeat and breathless tempo.
However, notwithstanding the forgiveable hang-ups of opening night hiccups, there remains a few rough edges to the act. A few flat jokes and odd vernacular perforate the performance at certain scenes, drawing the audience back as they wait for Lockey to finish her ‘sea hounds in heat’ analogy, which fell flat long ago.
But despite this the overall performance is utterly engaging and charming. Like talking to a crazed stranger at a bus stop, the viewer is unsure whether to pull away or let Lena carry on with her crazed tale, afraid of where it might end up. Simply put, All Thumbs is quirky, light and fun, and that in itself deserves two thumbs up.