Review: Lossless ‘is an imaginative and moving look at grief’

PUBLISHED: 21:35 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 21:35 17 February 2020

OVO presents Lossless at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Haydn Davis

OVO presents Lossless at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Haydn Davis

Haydn Davis

Madeleine Burton reviews Lossless at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

Good grief! Lossless at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans is a remarkable exposition of bereavement and the healing process.

Written by Stephen Tomas and being performed for three more days at the end of this week, Lossless is an imaginative and moving look at different aspects of grief.

And audiences will, I believe, come away with a greater understanding of how grief affects people and their varying ways of working through it.

Like his last play Fugue, Stephen Tomas shuns a beginning, middle and end.

Instead the audience for Lossless are the grief-counselling group to whom Moira, played by Annette Holland, and Man, played by Stephen Cunningham ,who writes under the name of Stephen Tomas, have been tasked with reading out a letter they have written about someone they have lost.

In the first part of Lossless, entitled Ghost Vocal, Moira has written hers but has come out without her glasses.

Finally, in despair, she asks for a volunteer in the audience to read it out for her.

Step forward Jane Withers as Woman who is clearly affected by an almost unreadable letter to the partner Moira has lost.

Annette Holland's performance is remarkable - so believable that even from the audience, you feel you want to reach out to her and help.

Blinkered by bright lights and suffering from microphone feedback every time she tries to make a stronger point, she switches to an expression of beatitude as Woman reads out her letter.

Jane Withers is her perfect foil as she struggles to make sense of a letter that is effectively a stream of consciousness but seems to sum up everything Moira wants to say.

Stephen who, in partnership with Derek Coe also directs Lossless, takes the stage in End Sequence as Man who has lost his sister.

His take on standing before an audience is completely different - he insists on the lights being dimmed and the microphone adjusted.

The result is that much of his monologue, which seems especially concerned with the impact of the death on his daughter, is conducted in disorientating near darkness. But acted as it is in a surprisingly moving sing song voice with more than a hint of repressed anger, it is very powerful and poignant.

Lossless can be seen from this Thursday, February 20, until Saturday, February 22, and more information and tickets can be found at www.ovo.org.uk

You can also book tickets at www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo

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