+3 Review: One Day Moko (Gilded Balloon: 5-29 Aug: 15.45: 1hr)

“A wonderful performance that really deserves to be seen.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

My third review of the day, and my third on the topic of homelessness is really quite a mystery – for the first few hours afterwards I had no idea what to make of it. One Day Moko follows the life of a young homeless man through the encounters he has with others and inadvertently, or perhaps on purpose, says very little about homelessness itself.

Moko is a charming character, who, rather than asking for money, simply asks for requests of songs he can sing. Indeed, it appears this is how he survives. With the thick skin homelessness must give, he’s not afraid to ask direct questions of the audience, and those of us with that stiff British upper lip who might normally just walk past a homeless person are unable to in this experiential performance. It’s confrontational, but in a really charming way. Be prepared to chip in to help make this show come alive.

Stylistically it’s very clever – absorbing, hard-hitting, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s a shame that narratively it seems somewhat incomplete. Moko tells various stories of people he meets or observes throughout his day, from Margaret who likes her coffee on a Saturday morning, to James who is bored of his relationship with his girlfriend but doesn’t know how to tell her, and many others. The storytelling is animated and engaging, though we only get teasing snippets – perhaps in reference to the snippets a homeless person may overhear as people walk past. Only James’ story is returned to and developed throughout the piece, and though for the audience it’s not clear why this one gets so much attention, I’ll admit the subtlety may have been lost on me.

While it’s teasing not to know more of each story Moko begins (one feels that they will tie together or thematically link in some way), there are some commonalities identified and shared by Moko, giving an intriguing outsiders’ perspective as to how the “other half” live. One of these is the importance of communication and saying what’s on your mind, perhaps a lesson Moko himself has learned, but sees the normal working person fail at so often.

At times this piece is achingly awkward, but it’s also utterly compelling. Tim Carlsen’s charisma, surprisingly impressive singing voice and physicality make Moko a really likeable and naiive character that it’s genuinely sad to say goodbye to at the end. It’s a wonderful performance that really deserves to be seen.

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 12 August)

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