Review of ‘Kitty In The Lane’: “Tales from the dark”

Áine Ryan’s one-woman show arrives to London for a strictly limited run playing until the end of this week. Guillermo Nazara shares his thoughts on this original work dealing with the bleakest depths of the human soul, to let us know what awaits at the end of this not so yellow-brick road.

We’ve all been in that place where we feel as if nothing in our lives made sense anymore; where there is no longer hope; where we’ve been pushed too hard. Try going on a date with somebody that thinks that knows good jokes, and you’ll now what I’m talking about. But apart from giving away the reason why I’m still single, let’s dim the lights of our inner selves for a moment, and set the mood for something that deals with a more somber topic – potentially, macabre.

Kitty In The Lane is not the story of a woman, but of an entity. It’s not the memories of a beaten person, but the voice of deranged reason. A background of grief and mistreatment lead to this delusional contemplation of what life has and could have been. Of what should have occurred, but never was. And how all the pieces of this shattered experience have been reassembled in a cracked patchwork of bitter memories and resentful hope.

The premise is as brilliant as dark it’s its plot. And the intention to explore the triggers that set off our personal explosions is worthy of applause. However, one can’t help but wondering if, sometimes, it’s just too much. She’s gone through a lot – that is true. But can we really buy, as viewers, everything that’s supposedly happened to her? She may be lying, after all. But can we ever consider her speech as some mischievous attempt of deception? It’s hard to grasp the traits of her true identity, as though her emotions and character are gazed upon, somehow the script fails to build a full profile – relying too much on recounting new facts instead of allowing us to savour just a few of them, thus also developing a taste for the protagonist.

Directed by Jack Reardon, Áine Ryan authors and performs the text with obvious commitment, creating an uncomfortably thrilling atmosphere that is enhanced by both Constance Comparot’s haunting set design and Alex Forey’s incredibly expressive lighting. Ryan’s take on the role poses an compelling proposal, using a mixture of constrained and exaggerated mannerisms, suggesting not only the tangible instability of the part, but perhaps evoking the threat that, apart from the world, she’s also become for her own self too. Interesting as a concept, it’s true that the overall construct is still in need of some tweaking – as her continuous visual eccentricity prevents the role from feeling real, something that could be avoided by just endowing her with a bit more humanity.

Undoubtedly, a well exercised achievement, Kitty In The Lane seems not to have unrolled its full potential, as despite creating an uncommonly complex character, it’s only her most external layers that have been put under the spotlight. The events of her tragic life can easily (sort to speak) lead to a more meaningful work that’s, at the same time, blessed with some uniqueness. But for that, her broken heart needs to beat harder.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Kitty In The Lane plays at London’s Jack Studio Theatre until 13 May. Tickets are available on the following link.

By Guillermo Nazara

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