What is the point of an apology? How do we decide who deserves an apology, and from where it should come? What makes an effective apology? Can an apology be too late? The Apologists is an exploration of exactly what it says in the title - situations whereby somebody seems to be overdue either receipt or delivery of an apology. The reasons range from sexual assault, to institutional racism, to heightened self-importance, self-absorption and media presence ruining the lives of others.

An exploration of cancel culture, power of the media to both positive and negative effect, and the types and scales of apologies, The Apologists is a set of three soliloquy’s delivered as a one woman show.

Acts were written by Iskandar Sharazuddin, Cordelia O’Neill, and Lucinda Burnett (in performance order). Each Act is brilliantly written, but Act 2 - Seven, the sweetest hour (O’Neill) - is especially effective, at a time when social media influence is at a dangerous peak. This concept felt original, modern, and painfully relative to recent events.

Performer Gabrielle Scawthorn gave a fantastic performance in each monologue, in what was clearly an emotionally consuming piece. Each Act contained a well-developed character, physically and vocally distinct from each other. Scawthorn is undoubtedly a massive talent.

Director Jane Moriarty and Assistant Sam Hooper have made fantastic use of the space, and minimal set, allowing for the success of the show to rely solely on the performance.

I was especially impressed by the lighting, designed by Saul Valinuas. The upstairs theatre has a fairly basic rig, but this was used to haunting effect. The front lighting, especially in Act 1, created shadows that give the illusion of being independent from their object, due to fantastic angling of both the staging and lights.

Self-pity is something better portrayed in small flashes, and throughout this performance there were some large portions that were steeped in it - if this could be rectified, The Apologists could have legs to do great things.

Thank you to the Omnibus, as ever, for their hospitality, and to Unlikely Productions for inviting me. The Apologists is amongst the best single-handed plays I have seen, and definitely worth watching. https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/the-apologists/

Reviewer: Andrew Lee

Reviewed: 3rd March 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★