Review: Lydia (Chalk Roots Theatre)

Who is Lydia? This is a question explored in Simina Pitur’s debut audio play for Chalk Roots Theatre, in which everyone but the title character is given a voice as she grows up.

Beginning with benign tales of childhood, Lydia’s story takes on an increasingly disturbing turn as she is seemingly and firmly guided into decisions she may not have made herself.

Figures of authority (parents, priest, teacher) as well as a romantic interest and two narrators pushing the story along are the forces of influence in this play. There’s even a moment or two where Lydia’s physical movement appears restricted.

We never hear what she looks like, or what she dreams of. It is an interesting premise to follow what others want for her, and to never really know how she feels. We are not sure if she even has the ability of speech or whether her sharp intellect is purely within her, and exploited or disregarded by those around her.

Promotional image for Lydia, Chalk Roots Theatre

Director Saulius Kovalskas marshals this clever and curious drama which has eight cast members in a piece which runs under fifty minutes. As Chalk Roots are a multi-national group of interdisciplinary artists, Lydia is a play which celebrates a variety of cultures and viewpoints, coming together in a tale of an articulate and intelligent child who is sharped purely by the voices of others.

In the cast, the narration is shared by James Viller in measured tones, and by Jessica Kinsey in a tone more at ease with teenage curiosity. Shaun Chambers and Laura Pujos are Lydia’s well-meaning parents, with Johny Gill bringing a notable calm to Father George. The remaining cast members are strong too – James Crouch, Káit Feeney, Alma Reising and Andrea Johannes. Gintė Preisaitė composes the music, with Raimundas Paulauskas providing the excellent sound design.

For a YouTube taster go to https://youtu.be/3wfyaIOAXpo.

There is one more performance via The Space on 23 May. Book here. More performances are planned at other venues in due course: please follow @chalkrootstc for details.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Lydia.

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