Tea and Hobnobs with the Devil
Mark Lockyer had a promising career with the RSC but whilst playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet in 1995 the events of his life piled up a little too high for him and he suffered a severe breakdown.
Mark’s one-man show Living with the Lights On, which visited the Lantern Theatre on Thursday and Friday as part of a tour, charts his recovery via a series of very dark places.
The performance gets off to a disarming start by seating the audience in the bar area rather than the auditorium, informally ranged around a table bearing a tea urn. Mark introduces himself to his guests and invites us to share tea and biscuits while he tells us a story.
The play hardly feels as though it’s been directed, as it appears to grow organically out of an informal chat, but Lockyer has clearly worked on honing the script and its delivery with Director Ramin Gray, as he achieves a perfect balance between the darkness of the material and a sharp and witty piece of storytelling.
He manages to weave various other individuals into the dialogue including Beelzebub, who he met during some of his darkest hours and who is characterised here as something reminiscent of Jack Nicholson. The performance moves back and forth between episodes of self-deprecating humour and moments of terrifying raw power, and the intimacy of the space in the Lantern’s bar makes for an intense but hypnotising 90 minutes in the company of an actor who has dared to reveal some of his own nightmares in this frank and honest examination of his own psychological disintegration and recovery.