Softly, Surely Review


Softly, Surely is an exploration of the medium of time; how we as humans connect the past with the present and continue to push on, although we may feel like time is passing us too quickly. Told through a series of monologues and duologues linked together by traditional folk songs, the five characters each tell their story whilst somehow interconnecting with each other. Although an intriguing and poignant concept, pertinent to many people and societies, the performance left me feeling unfulfilled and questioning if it was really worth the hour of my time.

Yannick Lawry & Zoe Crawford in Softly, Surely, 2022. 

My main problem with the performance was the writing style. The use of long, sometimes rambling monologues made me lose interest in the actors. I felt many of the characters’ stories were left feeling incomplete and unexplored. Most of the dialogue seemed more like a timeline of events, signposting the audience to the moments in which each character interlocked with another. I would have preferred to have been given more opportunity as an audience member to discover the relationships between characters throughout the performance, instead of being blatantly told them. Many of the characters seemed to lack development and were playing to one stereotype; the struggling actress, the businessman, and the highly-strung housewife. However, it is important to remember that this performance is a part of Sydney Fringe Festival; a place for exploration and trying new things out with an audience; so perhaps the script is still in development.

The play was definitely not without merit – Claudia Shnier as Carla Strong was a standout performance. She opened the show with a darkly funny and honest monologue told throughout her examination at the gynaecologist. She engaged the audience with truth and heart as she explained why she enjoyed these appointments, and slowly revealed her relationship with her Mum, who she had lost to cervical cancer. Claudia hooked me by not making Carla’s character two-dimensional; she was upbeat and positive whilst seemingly still grieving the loss of her Mum, making for a very compelling performance.

Abi Rayment in Softly, Surely, 2022.

I was also impressed with the stage and set design which, although simple, effectively conveyed the frustration of the elderly character, Alice (Abi Rayment). Suffering from the aftereffects of a stroke, she gets into a cycle of writing letters of complaint to her local politicians. The final moments of the play showed Alice trying to write another letter before tearing out the piece of paper, crumpling it up, and throwing it on the ground. The stage was already surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper, which until this moment, I had questioned the relevance of. Adding to the collection of paper created a heartbreaking moment that began to encompass themes of the performance that had not truly been explored with depth until the end.

Although this production of Softly, Surely left me feeling like it had slightly missed the mark, there was a clear framework for an intriguing piece of theatre that could engage all generations. I am excited to follow the development of this production and see where it goes from here.

3 Stars.

Ellie, 20 [she/her]

subtle nuance’s Softly, Surely played at the Flightpath Theatre from the 6th until the 10th of September.