Theatre Review: Californian Lives - King's Head Theatre, London ✭✭

Californian Lives
King's Head Theatre

Review by Unsa Chaudri

Once again I am at the King’s Head, this time eagerly awaiting the start of ‘Californian Lives’. The strapline ‘how well do you know those who are closest to you?’ adding to my curiosity.

I enter the theatre to be surprised by the seating and the stage. It is a clever triangular set, with the seats angled to get the best view. Music is played as we wait.

At last the show begins.

All three monologues are set in California (hence the Californian Lives title) and the first introduces us to a man in a diner.

Robin Holden is the salesman with a suitcase, who knows the freeways and back streets, like the back of his hand. Ask him any route and he will tell you the best way to get from A to B. He tells us how, on one of his many detours, he stumbled across the ‘love of his life’, the beautiful brunette Melanie, who is not at all like Linda (his ex-wife) and so his story begins.

Although Holden had an interesting story, I found his accent unconvincing and distracting. I did, however, find him fun to watch and thought he was very animated.

The second monologue introduces a man in a bar (John Vernon) called Ben and Joe’s. Ben and Joe’s is a popular bar. The clientele all know each other and spend their days socialising, watching TV and flirting with the barman – the most popular activity. One day a young man enters the pub, unwittingly highlighting prejudices and changing their lives forever. Vernon was convincing in his portrayal and held the audiences attention well.

Save the best for last and that’s just what they did! Carolyn Lyster, as Woman in Sunset, gave an impressive and captivating performance, one that had some of the audience in tears. Her story is about a woman who made sacrifices for her family but was given the opportunity to realise what really mattered to her.

In my opinion Californian Lives would appeal to an older generation. Some of the references were definitely targeted at them (I had to ask a gentleman behind me to explain who Garth Brooks is).

There are aspects of all three characters that people can relate to and you might find hints of your personality in them or find you have a similar story.

There are some comments, however, which people may find offensive, and although there is no clear time stamp, the language used may allude to the undercurrents of racism, sexism and exclusion that may exist in the US today.

It wasn’t really my cup of tea and I was slightly disappointed, mainly because I expected something different, but I think Californian Lives does appeal to some and if it sounds your thing, why not give it a chance.

Two stars ✭✭

Californian Lives

King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper Street
London N1 1QN

Sunday 21 April to Sunday 26 May

Sunday 21 April at 7.15pm
Monday 22 April at 7.15pm
Sunday 28 April at 7.15pm
Monday 29 April at 7.15pm
Sunday 5 May at 7.15pm
Monday 6 May at 7.15pm
Sunday 12 May at 7.15pm
Monday 13 May at 7.15pm
Sunday 19 May at 7.15pm
Monday 20 May at 7.15pm
Sunday 26 May at 3.00pm and 7.15pm

Tickets: £11.50 - £19.00

Box office: 020 7478 0160