21st February to 3rd March
Direction and Dramaturgy by Ben Kidd and Jesse Britton
With Derailed, Little Soldier invites us to their going-away party. It really feels like a party too: there’s champagne, somebody’s making gazpacho, and everyone’s getting in on the action on-stage. The live music helps too, endowing the party with a rock-gig feel, and underscoring the winding, goofy tangents that Little Soldier take us on.
But not everyone is in the mood to party. Little Soldier themselves, as it turns out, aren’t ready to go yet.
Derailed is a play about Brexit, and so it’s a play about rejection, and endings, and saying goodbye. Little Soldier, made up of Spanish artists Patricia Rodríguez and Mercè Ribot, have a wonderful, winking charm to them.And in their clownish, entertaining way, they go about searching for some way to give their time in the UK meaning.
They lead us down strange, winding pathways. Then they suddenly change direction, starting on something totally new. Admittedly, a few of those pathways feel like they go on for a bit too long. But so quickly are we pulled into the next game, we almost immediately forget.
And game really is the word — Little Soldier seem to be in a state of constant play. They seem to revel in the unpredictability of the moment. They happily bring audience members on stage to act in scenes, play instruments, even trusting one with a blender. The constant playfulness of the piece ensures it is always light, always fun, even when reckoning with the real pain of being rejected by one’s chosen home.
The times when the play does come down to earth are legitimately touching. One moment, in which Patricia struggles to articulate why it’s so important to her that she protest in Britain, was particularly moving. But they never fall into self indulgence. They don’t have time to, as it’s not long before Little Soldier spins everything around and starts something completely different.
The constant changes in direction do leave the piece feeling somewhat unfocused.One would be hard pressed to find a single cohesive thesis statement that the piece is putting forward. But that’s not the point. Little Soldier are playing, riffing on the theme of goodbyes, telling a joke about the futility of trying to wrap up several years of two human lives in a neat little bow. It’s all just for fun, they say. That’s all it was ever about.