*a great big sigh* – The Hope Theatre, London – Review
by Eamon Somers
Run now finished – July 7th and 8th
Tina and Walter are tied back to back to their chairs, gaged and asleep, as the audience take their seats for the comedy two-hander *a great big sigh* at the Hope and Anchor in Islington. The sound of a klaxon wakes them to their reality and triggers a lovely comic routine as they attempt to free themselves. A voiceover tells them they have forty minutes to live. Forty minutes before the bomb goes off, forty minutes in which to find the four clues needed to assemble the numbers required for the combination lock protecting the safe that contains the key to open the only exit from the room. The voice is keen to stress that they will need to cooperate if they are to succeed.
Tina (played beautifully by Maree Yoon) is determined to escape and demands that Walter (again, played beautifully by Riley Marinelli) concentrate. But Walter, the infuriating flibbertigibbet, wants to talk, to analyse, to misunderstand everything Tina says, and to get to know her. Tina does not want to get to know Walter, she wants to escape the room and save her life. But the answer to the question “why them?”, why have they been kidnapped and set this task, might help with the answers to the clues. If they ever find the hidden clues, if she can get Walter to stop dithering and concentrate. Concentration makes Walter look like a very constipated small boy, doing his best to defecate.
Although I’m not normally a fan of physical theatre or slapstick, I enjoyed *a great big sigh* a lot. The physical elements expressed Walter’s character at least as well as any words would have. His infuriating personality made me simultaneously want to murder him and to take care of him, clearly also what Tina seems to feel. Which I expect is what engaging an audience is all about.
Every ten minutes the voice returns to remind them of their diminishing time. And although the power-shifts, back and forth between them were textbook and delightful to watch, the imminent explosion was always making me urge them onwards with finding the clues and identifying the numbers and getting to safety.
The run at the Hope & Anchor has finished but the show will be at the Hen & Chickens (also in Islington) 4th – 9th of September. Fifty minutes of joy that’s well worth catching.
Maryhee Yoon & Riley Marinelli
Writers: Maryhee & Riley Marinelli
Producer: Maryhee Yoon & Riley Marinelli
Director: Eifion Ap Cadno
Designer: Becca White
Stage Manager: Stephanie Watson