Leona (Stanton) wants to help people feel beautiful – if not forever, then for a week, a day or just an hour. Her need to cure their loneliness stems from an inability to confront her own, travelling from place to place in her ‘home on wheels’ constantly endeavoring and failing in her quest. We meet her at Monk’s (Bethley) run down bar in an isolated seaside town into which she has poured the last six months of her life. Her main projects Bill (Brocker), the insincere boyfriend, and Violet (Somers-Yeates), the unhygienic train wreck friend, have proved their unworthiness for the last time and Leona is determined to move on. Williams’ Confessional explores unrequited love, unfulfilled ambitions, homophobia, mental illness, loss of life’s surprise, fear of death and how it all can be witnessed down the local.
Southwark playhouse’s ability to set the piece in a working bar, paired with Silver’s directing style of un-blocked action creates an authentic and powerful product. The effect is much more moving and personal when the same barman that served you before the show breaks down in front of the regulars revealing his significant health scares. By denying us a programme until the end, our perception and judgment of these characters is less clouded by the subconscious identification with them as actors, they’re just other people in the pub.
Stanton is undeniably the life force of the piece and remains completely absorbing from start to finish. It is a joy to watch her total command over the audience while conveying Leona’s total lack of command of the situation she finds herself in. The other cast members are equally impressive. Each individual story is thoughtfully explored and conveyed, from the Chef who clings to the littlest chance of love regardless of his sexual health, to the young boy who is learning to kill all surprise and lust for life he has. There is always someone to watch, some element of humanity to unpick.
For those who love an action-packed plot, this is not the play for you. This site-specific, low tech, partially improvised piece is a time capsule of humanity, relatable for everyone through its diversity of characters. Loneliness is proved inevitable, but we can be lonely together.