Review of Matryoshka's Journey
By Mariam Mathew
Inside one of the most intimate stages in London, the Baron’s Court Theatre (under The Curtains Up pub), the Pathós Theatre troupe takes audiences on a soul-searching voyage via Matroyoshka’s Journey, written by David Lemos. In a light, and yet deeply searching production, we gain an insight into the self through the posing of universal questions including, ‘Where do you go when you start running away?’
‘Have you ever opened a matryoshka?’ starts the hour-long piece. The opening scene puts the audience on edge, as the protagonist and owner of the matryoshka [Russian wooden dolls within dolls], played by Jessica González, stares at the dozen or so seats, from a 6’x8’ stage.
The intensity fluctuates as the play introduces several key characters in the protagonist’s life, offering such things as ‘she doesn’t want to understand her true self.’ Through monologues and conversations with the troupe of diverse actors, the unnamed lead discovers, ‘I have many reflections, but I’m only one person.’
This deeply probing journey is carried out with moments of light. We consider the plight of this young woman with a knowing understanding that the doll is a device to help her discover herself.
The brightest scene is one in which an interchange of matryoshka dolls between our female protagonist and a young man she assumes will travel with her on her journey. However, it is David Rawlins, reprising the role of the traveler, who is the true shining light of the production, bringing clarity and focus in his few moments on the stage.
The greatest insight and delight of this production is that one can’t leave without a feeling a sense of self-revelation. Though moments of the piece feel like platitudes, rather than conversation, the climax of the protagonist’s journey is in the reconciliatory argument with her mother, during which the mother admits she doesn’t want her daughter making mistakes, but the girl confesses that the real struggle of life is that ‘sometimes you feel everybody expects you to be strong, but they never teach you how to be weak.’
And in such insightful lines of self-revelation lies the strength of this production.