Review Lose Yourself, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff by Kevin Johnson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The latest play by Welsh Playwright Katherine Chandler has three separate intertwining monologues, from three characters, that is far more than the sum of its parts.

Nate is an aging footballer who knows his career is ending but can’t, or won’t, mature. Even with a wife and child at home, he’s still got an eye for the good life, the champagne and the girls. 

Josh is a teenage footballer with an injury that could end his career before it starts, denying him an exit from a life he’s desperate to leave. All he wants is a way out, and Meg, the girl he loves.

Yaz doesn’t want a career, just a job at the cosmetics counter, but the competition includes girls with degrees, and she’s only got an NVQ and some street smarts.

The three come together on a Saturday, all have one thing in common, a desire, a need, to forget all their troubles and lose themselves in the night out to end all nights out. But this one might not end well for everyone.

There is so much to enjoy in this play, such a feast of words that it’s almost a poem. A Labour slogan here, a Jean Paul Sartre quote there, all the while pulsating with rhythm and rhymes: “Her and she and me. We.”, “Giggling and wiggling, and I’m grinding and winding…grounding and pounding”, “Tequila! No more. One more. No more now”.

It’s earthy, bawdy, visceral, and vital, all of these and more. Chandler brings the characters to life and lets their words flow into each other, as they try to escape the fate that, deep down, they suspect they’re doomed to.

The recent conviction of cricketer Alex Hepburn gives the piece a timeliness, especially with the rise of the #MeToo movement and the Weinstein scandal. An accounting of such behaviour is long overdue, and here she explores why men feel so entitled.

The cast take the script and, realising what a gift it is, run with it. Aaron Anthony as Nate gives us an elder that is more immature than the others, a balancing act that he carries off with a swaggering aplomb.

Tim Preston makes us hope for a Josh who is strangely insightful for his youth, even as he betrays himself with an uncharacteristic act of madness.

Gabrielle Creevy, in her first professional stage role, creates a Yaz that is both street-smart and innocent. A girl who goes into a situation with her eyes open, yet never at any point is guilty of being an accomplice. There are three great performances here, but I would say she just edges ahead with a sensitive portrayal.

Director Patricia Logue keeps the play pacy and rhythmic, using Carla Goodman’s set to great effect. It’s a simple but atmospheric one that brings the play to life, especially with the aid of Andy Pike’s lighting and Sam Jones sound.

This is not an easy play, but it takes an ugly situation and imbues it with such beauty that even the expletives are poetic. Chandler has a reputation for going to dark places, but light needs to be shined on these most of all. 

When we ask why so many feel this is the only way to be, Josh explains how the choices for most are ‘dole, drugs or die young’.

There needs to be another option.

Lose Yourself plays at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff until the 25th May.