Many of us are familiar with the dreamy world of Neverland, a world of eternal joy and innocent youth populated by fairies and children, spun by J. M. Barrie in his Peter Pan works. Lost Boy, written by Emma Robinson and directed by Emily Moss, appears to have sprung from the implication of Barrie’s world that child can withdraw from their parents or parent, and the effect that such a withdrawal might have on both parent and child.  

Throughout the play, there was the distinct impression that the story – that is, the narrative relayed to us by the nameless character (played by Orli Vogt-Vincent) alone on stage – was entirely illustrative of the powerful sentiment behind it. The idea of a parent-child relationship, specifically a mother-daughter relationship, from which the child had withdrawn, and why they have done so, is obviously difficult subject matter but Emma Robinson has treated with the respect and sensitivity it deserves. The writing was self-consciously a torrent of feeling and ideas with very little structure; to have structured such feeling to tightly might have risked muting its intensity. The written motifs of the play – cracking eggs for breakfast, the reoccurrence of the imagery of a lock – felt less about structure and more an attempt to keep the emotion of the piece tethered to a lived reality. There were moments when the words spilling out of the nameless characters mouth felt slightly to gone over and finely worked to be immediately honest from her, but in the most part they retained a rawness and an unbridled honesty on which the play conceptually hinged.  

“Vogt Vincent’s range of emotions carried the weight of the being the sole actor on stage for just over an hour” 

Such a structure, or lack thereof, naturally poses challenges in the staging, but the cast and crew of Lost Boy managed to pull together a production which channelled the writing wonderfully. Even the best written theatre is insufferable when badly acted, but luckily the masterful performance given by Orli Vogt-Vincent as the nameless character was more than enough to bring the script to life. Vogt Vincent’s range of emotions carried the weight of the being the sole actor on stage for just over an hour, with a visceral sense of tension at her vulnerability maintained just below the sarcastic and biting surface of the performance. There were just enough cracks in that surface to prevent the sarcasm from becoming tired – the moments of true vulnerability punctuated the performance wonderfully. Between those moments, thoughts that appeared to be naturally occurring came as quickly as they went, giving the comedy of the piece an almost slapstick quality. Vogt-Vincent’s comic timing was generally on point although some comic lines, played to the socially distanced (and thus sparsely populated) Corpus Playroom struggled to make headway. Regardless, the intense pain deflected with an equally intense and fiercely defensive wit from Vogt-Vincent was powerfully moving.


Mountain View

“Warning – it might not all go smoothly!”

The occasional stepping out of the stream of consciousness with vulnerable moments was aided by the lighting of Anna Mills, which served to suspend the narrative flow temporarily which aided the flow of Lost Boy tremendously. The use of light and sound to mark the passage of time seemed to be slightly unnecessary, given that the narrative was not at risk of slipping any temporal bonds to far, but it fortunately did not detract from the pace of the play.

On a personal note, the internal sentimental gush on being back in the Corpus Playroom after more than a year was surprisingly powerful – I had really truly missed the space. For those who in successive lockdowns have missed the risk taking and exciting new student writing which the Playroom has long facilitated, Lost Boy is an excellent return.