October 22, 2018
It isn’t all glitz and glamour within our offices, oh no! Although we do review the West End hits and the much-anticipated Christmas ballet performances, we also enjoy trekking out to the smaller theatres where creativity is often favoured over budget constraints. With this in mind, we popped by The Drayton Arms Theatre on Friday night to enjoy a fascinating and intelligent play that dealt with the idea of identity in the modern world.
If we said ‘John Lewis’ to you, what would you say? Perhaps you’d say it’s your parents’ favourite shop, known for its excellent price match policy, unrivalled warranty and classic Christmas adverts. You might then decide to tweet @JohnLewis and praise their services, despite inadvertently tagging the wrong John Lewis. You see @JohnLewis is just a long-suffering man in America whilst @JLPartners is the famed department store.
Simon Jay and Ben Nardone are behind this fascinating tale about the man behind the screen who often helpfully directs British complainers to the right Twitter profile. Jay plays Lewis and a whole host of other characters, giving us a glimpse into the minds of those who tweet John Lewis, his own psyche and also those who work at the department store, who desperately ponder what they should do about the erroneous tweeting from the public. It’s absolutely incredible that not only has a play been crafted out of Twitter errors and more impressive still that it’s so entertaining.
The play was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in August when it premiered on the Free Fringe and earned numerous four and five star reviews with many citing its star in the headlines. It’s easy to say why; Jay is a formidable one man tour-de-force that has crossed the globe with his Trumpageddon show and proves here that he isn’t a one trick pony, delivering a thoughtfully crafted message on the role social media plays in the modern world interspersed with hilarious lines of dialogue throughout.
The play excels with its limited budget, inviting you to watch John Lewis as he gets ready for work, lectures students and commutes back and forth on the bus. There are audio highlights too, as John dreams and reads his notifications.
All in all, it was a wonderful little play and sums up what fringe theatre is all about. We cannot wait to see what Simon Jay does next.
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By Henry Fosdike