Little Soldier Productions have just opened their latest show, Derailed, at south London’s Ovalhouse. Spanish migrants Patricia Rodríguez and Mercè Ribot have been in the UK for 12 years, but the recent EU referendum and political turmoil have left them wondering whether they have made a difference at all. The devised piece takes the form of a leaving party, full of music, refreshments & other hijinks.
One bit of advice: don’t get too comfy! There are a few moments (including right at the start) where everyone is encouraged to get on their feet, and if you choose the front row you’ll almost certainly be asked to join in with one thing or another. I’d also strongly suggest that if, like me, you’re quite introverted, it might be best to go with someone – the whole thing has a very social feel to it, and there is one moment in particular that is excrutiatingly uncomfortable (and kind of embarrassing) if you’re flying solo. It’s not an intentional move on their part, I’m sure, and nothing feels too forced upon you; it just makes for some quite awkward sections.
If you’re more outgoing & extroverted (which most of the audience seemed to be) then you’ve no need to worry, as you will have a whale of a time! It’s a bit of a shame that there are some quite divisive moments, as there are so many really enjoyable bits that just about make you forget about your previous discomfort for a while. Those are undoubtedly the standout moments, as everyone in the room is united in one emotion – whether it’s joy or sadness, everyone is in it together.
My favourite part definitely has to be writing down what makes you angry (rather regretting not adding a little more to mine, as I’m sure I could’ve got away with making them use some questionable language when they read them all out!) and the subsequent setting up of an online petition about one of these, chosen at random. It’s also cause for a bit of a protest song, to round off that section of the night.
Whilst not all of their methods are inclusive, you can’t deny that they’ve made a thought-provoking piece of theatre. Not scripting it may give it a slightly chaotic air at times, but it also taps into the raw emotion of some of the subjects they talk about – a good example is Patricia recounting a story about a protest that she & Mercè went on a few years ago. They also communicate well their desire to make a difference in the world.
I’m not sure this is the best environment in which to perform a show of this nature; somewhere like Above the Arts would work a lot more naturally for the immersive & informal feeling they wish to create. End-on in a black box studio is a bit too rigid, and definitely doesn’t give you the right expectations as an unsuspecting audience member.
Mercè and Patricia make a tight unit with Dan Lees and Thomas Abela (as well as Fergus, in charge of sound & projections) – they clearly enjoy performing together, and this enthusiasm rubs off on the audience. The cava & gazpacho also go down a treat!
My verdict? A leaving party like no other, and a show that defies description – lots to enjoy, but introverts beware!
Derailed runs at Ovalhouse until 3 March 2018. Tickets are available online or from the box office.