REVIEW: HERE’S HOPING (Ovalhouse) ★★★

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This is a thought provoking piece of theatre on the theme of hope in a seemingly hopeless world. Do we have hope, do we need hope, do we hope for the right things and do we always understand the effect of actually getting what we hope for? I personally hope that HERE’S HOPING will prove a theatrical success because it is enjoyable, enlightening and uplifting.

Daisy Orton and Pablo Pakula together form The Accidental Collective and they both wrote and hosted this piece. They are an interesting and confident couple, funny, intelligent and well suited to encourage the audience to join in. The show is very much about giving the audience an engaging experience on the night.

Most of the show is in the form of interaction between the audience and the two members of the cast. The audience were predominantly in their twenties with just a sprinkling of more elderly people, such as my self. It is to the credit of the friendly, warm but slightly odd personalities of Daisy and Pablo, that the audience were more than happy to join in without feeling in any way embarrassed or self conscious.

The interaction between the cast and the audience consisted partly of games, for example Chinese Whispers (in which, much to my embarrassment, I passed on the wrong message by mistake saying “no” when I should have said “hope” and thereby causing a little confusion). There was also some word association, the word being, of course, “hope”. The audience were asked which of a selection of pieces of well known music, made them feel hopeful. I was incidentally, the only person in the audience that found the anthem Jerusalem in any way hopeful. Obviously an age thing.

Between these events Daisy and Pablo narrated relevant, hope related, stories of both every day and outstanding courage from Leningrad to Aleppo and throughout recent history. All were hopeful stories from dark times.

They talked about The Leningrad Orchestra who, during the Second World War, and despite almost a year of siege and associated starvation and dreadful deprivations, began rehearsals in the hope that one day, when Leningrad was relieved, they would be able to perform Shostakovich’s heroic Symphony No. 7. On the 9th of August 1942 they managed, against all odds, to triumphantly carry out that performance.

The inclusiveness of Here’s Hoping, persuades the audience to think about hope and then to join in a related simple question and answer session. People were more than happy to offer their reactions to the mental stimuli offered by the cast and so, by joining in, became a principle part of the process rather than just observers.

The audience  gave an enthusiastic ovation at the end and so, I guess, the purpose of the evening was fulfilled. The audience all felt that they had contributed to the event and left feeling elated.

The Oval Theatre is a small but excellent and comfortable venue located in the shadow of one of the Oval Cricket Grounds stands. The staff alone make it worth a visit, they are all very friendly and helpful. Visit and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by Graham Archer