Hope Theatre, London – until 9 March 2019
Guest reviewer: Kirsty Herrington
London’s Hope Theatre prides itself on showcasing a selection of bold new theatre, and its latest production, Little Echoes, certainly fits the bill.
Written by Tom Powell, Little Echoes tells the story of three people whose lives change dramatically over the course of the 90-minute play. After his brother has acid thrown in his face in an unprovoked attack, Shajenthran struggles to cope and decides to go in search of the unknown assailants and seek revenge. June makes her money from taking on assignments without question, but she begins to doubt the morality of the tasks she’s ordered to carry out. Meanwhile teenager Danielle meets her pop star crush and enters into a relationship with him, but she soon discovers that living her dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When the three finally cross paths, it leads to a shocking conclusion that they’ll never forget.
Directed by Stephen Bailey and told through a series of monologues, Little Echoes is a brave and fast-paced tale of love, obsession, intimidation and abuse. Pentire Street Productions has teamed up with charity Beyond the Streets for this play to shine a light on the sexual exploitation of women, and as a result the dark themes explored are all handled sensitively and sympathetically.
The three stories, which do feel too disjointed at times, are brought to life thanks to excellent performances from the cast of three. Mikhael DeVille brings great energy to the production with his performance as Shaj, who spirals into despair following his brother’s attack; while Ciara Pouncett is compelling to watch as the cool, confident and brilliantly conceited June. Maisie Preston excels as Danielle, capturing the attitude of a teenager with gusto, and it’s her journey which is arguably the most impactful.
Danielle’s transformation from a bubbly, obsessive, innocent teenager into a frightened, abused young woman is both chilling and heartbreaking to watch. As well as the three characters the actors take on the voices of other roles in the play with the help of microphones dotted around the set, although at times the lack of physical presence of these characters is felt.
The actors make good use of Jessica Staton’s sparse but effective black and white set, with a fox at the head, both a reminder of city life and Shaj’s encounters later in the story. Meanwhile the production is assisted greatly by Chris McDonnell’s lighting design, with the low-hanging and hand-held bulbs reflect the changing moods and adding to the tension. For the most part David Denyer’s sound design works, however there are odd moments when the background music distracts from the action.
Little Echoes is a captivating play and while some developments feel a little too convenient, it is on the whole a powerful and important story with an unexpected and unnerving ending that really packs a punch.