Review: The Level on Being at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 23:56 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 01:08 04 July 2017

Ottilie Mackintosh played Louise in The Level of Being at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans

Ottilie Mackintosh played Louise in The Level of Being at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans

Archant

Madeleine Burton reviews The Level of Being starring Ottilie Mackintosh at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

Everyone knows somebody like Louise is one of the premises behind The Level of Being, performed at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans last Friday and Saturday.

Well I really hope not because in the hands of the extremely talented Ottilie Mackintosh, Louise is so totally self-centred that those around her are no more than cyphers.

The play by Martin Arrowsmith is a monologue starring former St Albans resident Ottilie and produced by Sleepless Arch Theatre.

While Louise is the only one who speaks, two white-faced actors sit on stage throughout and mime as various characters in her life as and when needed.

And that is not very often because so narcissistic and self-absorbed is Louise that other people don’t mean much to her other than to blame them for everything that goes wrong in her life.

Ottilie is brilliant as Louise – at first almost likeable and maybe, just maybe, not to blame for her misfortunes.

But as soon as she comes across a lifestyle manual, The Level of Being, that she decides is her new best friend, it soon becomes clear that she is the author of her own misfortunes.

Whether it be provoking her husband, deciding she knows better than her drama teacher or preparing to marry for a second time to a totally unsuitable man, Louise declares none of it is her fault.

Ottilie captures Louise’s self-confident belief that she is blameless so well that what could be seen just as a grotesque comedy leaves the audience reeling at its rather shocking ending.

Florence Mackintosh as X and Elliot Keefe as Y have little to do but sit on stage but they demonstrate cleverly how meaningless everyone else is in Louise’s life.

Only one person matters and that is herself.

Directed by Sarah Jane McKechnie, The Level of Being demonstrates how lucky St Albans is to have a community theatre like the one at the Maltings that stages such compelling plays.

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