‘This ultimately moving production makes uncomfortable viewing. And if the stories seem unrealistic and extreme at times, unfortunately they reflect the reality of modern London’
There are many stories that can be told about contemporary London. In Tom Powell’s ‘Little Echoes’ we follow three interconnected monologues. Danielle is the victim of grooming and sexual exploitation, Shaj looks to avenge a horrendous acid attack on his brother, and June is a fixer, trying to maintain the increasingly dubious distinction between doing illegal but not immoral activities.
The journeys of the characters are very different. We open with Shaj, whose world is turned upside down when his brother is attacked and blinded. For the rest of the play we follow his obsessive quest for revenge. Mikhael DeVille excellently captures Shaj’s vulnerability, but he also prowls about looking like a man who is about to crack. He also provides the play with some of its most beautiful and haunting images, including describing the orange glow of London at night being like a Wotsit soaked in ink.
Whereas Danielle (Maisie Preston) starts from a place of youthful hope, before descending into a world of exploitation. Preston is excellent at the later darker sequences as well as the teenage comedy of the early stages, which make the transformation all the more devastating.
June’s (Ciara Pouncet) journey is a more gradual, but no less dangerous, descent. Bringing calmness to a frantic schedule of clearing up after the criminal mess of others, how long can the ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ policy of her moral code function when she finally admits her work is not just dealing with victimless crime?
With any play like this you wonder if the characters’ stories will cross over and, if so, whether their encounters will significantly impact on the others. In ‘Little Echoes’ the stories do converge, but not necessarily in a predictable way. It does feel a little long at times, especially the approach to the finale, but its conclusion makes compelling viewing.
The cast are superb in their main roles and, with some neat tricks from director Stephen Bailey, also voice a host of other characters. The sound (David Denyer) and lighting (Chris McDonnell) are cleverly used in this ultimately moving production. ‘Little Echoes’ makes uncomfortable viewing. And if the stories seem unrealistic and extreme at times, unfortunately they reflect the reality of modern London, as demonstrated at the end with a collection for the charity Beyond the Streets, who work with victims of sexual exploitation and advised the production.
Photo credit: Will Alder
Set and design: Jessica Staton
LITTLE ECHOES written by Tom Powell, directed by Stephen Bailey
Produced by Pentire Street Productions
The Hope Theatre, Islington, 19 Feb - 9 Mar 2019
Andy is a playwright who regularly has plays performed in London fringe theatre.