An afternoon of sublime storytelling mixed with expertly positioned background noises makes Debs Newbold’s piece quite something to remember. It is obvious from the get go that Newbold is very likeable as a performer and has a large fan base that regularly attends her shows, cheering manically as she enters the space. After losing her voice a couple of days before this particular performance she begins by apologising, then moves swiftly on by cracking a couple of jokes (drinking plenty of water) and managing to channel her energy, taking the whole audience on an adventure through one of her latest stories.
The piece is not one of pure acting, glamorous set designs or a heap load of intricate props to manoeuvre across the space. Newbold is very much alone and besides her ‘trusty sidekick’ Roland (the sound devices boxed name) all eyes are set on her throughout the entire piece. She speaks to the audience using individuals as points at which to make the story more personal and have a closer impact.
The story talks of a young girl named Annie who travels to the UK after being brought up in Sydney her whole life. Annie and her mother Sarah are the leading figures in this quite touching piece of storytelling, delving into themes such as regret, heartache, disappointment and hope. The main reason for their travels is due to Annie’s father, who at this point is in a catatonic state, but Newbold lets us as listeners travel through his mind and hear the life still prominent inside his damaged shell of a body. Annie of course, in her own innocent way, tries to get through to her father, tickling him, teasing him and even making the odd dirty joke. However, it is not until her own creativity as a visual artist (similar to that of her father) inspires her to paint his hand blue whilst he is in bed that he reacts quite strongly to the touch of paintbrush to palm. A beautiful metaphor and bold connection between a father and daughter, having faith when it seems almost impossible.
Surprisingly Newbold builds up a trust and connection quite easily between her and the audience which makes the 80mins we are there pleasant and easy to listen to. The Last Word Festival is a great platform for new and interesting storytellers to share their own unique work and as Newbold demonstrates skilfully, you can succeed by just standing and telling opposed to overdoing.
Review written by Luke Redhead.
Lost in Blue was shown at the Sackler Space (Roundhouse Theatre) on Sunday 5th June. For more information on Debs Newbold, visit here…