This is the second time I have been to the Old Red Lion (ORL) theatre and once again I was not disappointed by what they had to offer. Either I have been very lucky with my visits or ORL only attracts the most creative teams. Ugly Lovely is written by, and stars, the talented Welsh creative Ffion Jones. Set in Swansea, Ugly Lovely, explores the love, laughter and hardships endured by the protagonist Shell. Shell feels trapped. She has a baby who lives with Shell’s mum, her boyfriend is almost non-existent and her Nan sits on the side in the form of an urn.
The play opens with Shell and her only mate ending their alcohol fuelled night in a kebab shop. From the very outset the audience are introduced to Shell’s conflicting states of mind and her struggle between living in the past and focusing on the future. Her fluctuating personality explores spontaneity and elation which are constantly juxtaposed with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.
Despite topics of promiscuity, suicide and betrayal, Ffion Jones and the other two members of the cast filled the theatre with a constant revitalising energy that was genuine and embracing. No matter what emotion was dominating the scene, the individual personalities of each character managed to suck the audience into their world. The intimacy of the theatre left the audience feeling as though they knew the characters on a personal level by the end of the play. The empathy felt for Shell was genuine and strong.
Ugly Lovely’s cast of three had great chemistry and managed to deliver gritty subjects in a more comfortable and easy to access manner. Despite its serious themes, this play is a comedy that had its audience belly laughing periodically. Shell, her best mate and her one-night stand were all incredibly refreshing to watch. If you want to take a trip to Wales without leaving London, to experience a story with elements that we can all relate to and to be purged of your emotions through laughter then you have only got a week left to make your way to Islington: http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/ugly-lovely.html