Review: Another Eavesdropping at the Jack Studio Theatre

We all love a bit of eavesdropping – whether it’s just a single line heard out of context, or a complete story, overheard conversations can give us an insight into the world and the people around us, inspire flights of imagination, and spark new discussions of our own. Angel Theatre clearly see the dramatic potential of listening in to these encounters, as they return with Another Eavesdropping, which follows previous productions EavesdroppingMore Eavesdropping and Eavesdropping Again.

Photo credit: Angel Theatre

To create Another Eavesdropping, the cast of twelve (Ben Armitage, Anna Bonnett, Georgia Dawson, Kieran Dooner, Kitty Evans, Beatrice Hyde, Gordana Kostic, James Lee, Taylor Pope, Laura Shipler Chico, Christie Silvester and Ricky Zalman) spent several weeks transcribing genuine conversations they overheard while out in public. Each transcription was anonymised and the raw text shared with the rest of the company to be adapted into a short scene. Some of these scenes are funny, some heartbreaking, some confusing, and some extremely mundane – just like real life. Because the words are presented verbatim, there’s no perfectly crafted script or carefully designed narrative arc; some get surprisingly deep with very few words, while others become repetitive to the point of absurdity and ultimately end up saying very little. Some of the characters are instantly sympathetic, while others are harder to like – but each of them has something to say, and that’s the key point.

Because the show is made up of lots of completely individual vignettes, there’s no plot to connect them, but the cast do a good job of transitioning smoothly from one to the next so that the show rarely feels disjointed. When not performing in a scene, the actors all sit motionless at the side, impassively observing the action. A shelf unit at the back of the stage contains a number of props – a shopping bag, a bowl of pasta, an apple, a book, some yoga mats… – each of which plays a key role in a single scene. The settings for each piece have been selected by the cast, the real setting never having been shared with the rest of the company, and throughout the evening we find ourselves in a golf club, on a bus, in a pharmacy, and any number of everyday locations. As a result, we get to hear from a decent range of voices, although a lack of diversity among the cast means this doesn’t go as far as it could, and the London life portrayed in the show is probably not one that everyone will recognise.

Photo credit: Angel Theatre

The idea of Another Eavesdropping is a clever one, with an infinite supply of new material to be had – you only have to step out your front door, get on a bus or go to the shops to overhear any number of similar conversations on any given day. The key ingredient here is not the words themselves but how they’re brought to life, and strong performances and an ear for the often unintentional humour that’s all around us is what makes Another Eavesdropping an enjoyable show to watch. It might also make you think twice before you start another public conversation, as you never know who might be listening…

Another Eavesdropping continues at the Jack Studio Theatre until 1st October.

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