Half A Person: My Life As Told By The Smiths makes its London debut at the King’s Head Theatre, having played in venues throughout the UK, including The Lowry, in The Smith’s home town of Salford. The show focuses solely on troubled and self-indulgent William. William is a twenty-something Londoner whose existence he constantly questions, ponders and everything in his life gets over-analysed and seems meaningless, until his discovery of The Smiths and their music means everything to him.
William finds an overwhelming connection with the songs and makes him feel as though he is not alone, that there are others out there, who is just as unhappy and in as much despair as he is. Much of this is egotistical, but then there seems to be a genuinely sad nature to William, which makes us just wish that he had a few good friends around him, to support and lighten his dark outlook on life.
William tells his tales and woes in an almost poetic fashion and the delivery of the dialogue is in a half thespian way, combined with the delivery of an over-grown teenager not getting his way and feeling bored. At times, you could hear a pin drop, as the audience were so engrossed and glued to his every word, especially when his emotions overwhelmed him, which got quite powerful to watch.
The story continues with William drifting through life, before stumbling upon a beautiful woman in a coffee shop, who also happens to be crazy about The Smiths, who is the perfect girlfriend material for him. He falls for this lady, allowing him to indulge in further self-obsession, more music listening and more ‘woe is me’ moments. More gloom lies ahead, with the illness of his best friend and the twists in his relationships are what the remainder of the show is about.
We would say that this show is purely for The Smiths fans, otherwise, we believe that it would be hard to ‘get’ and wasted on those who are indifferent to their values and beliefs and what they are about. Otherwise, you just wonder why you are there and should William really be talking to his psychiatrist, rather than entertaining an audience. References to Morrissey’s lyrics appear throughout the show and William often breaks into song, to fit in with the scenes, of which we feel that actor Joe Presley on occasion got absolutely spot on. When the show played on the dry humour that Morrissey is known for, with one-liners and quick wit, the show really works and there are some tiny glimmers of light.
This show won’t be for everyone, due to its rather gloomy outlook. It’s certainly not one for the neutral fan. This is one of those shows that you’ll either love, or absolutely loathe. We found it interesting, but an hour of hearing such soul-searching on a Monday evening was more than long enough. That said, the show was greatly delivered by Joe Presley and we always feel that a one-man show can notoriously be difficult, he managed to vary his tones and acted the part well.