How My Light is Spent

It’s hard to think of a Bruntwood Prize winning play that has used form in this way.  Really this a narrative poem without verse, the two actors both telling the story through direct address to the audience, and acting out the key scenes.  Simply set on a walkway which appears to be suspended from the ceiling, sparsely lit, with clever use of background sound and superimposed phone effects to evoke emotion and place, How My Light is Spent is an intriguing proposition.

‘Being unemployed in the UK has become demonised’ says writer Alan Harris.  And indeed, after Jimmy loses his job in a drive through doughnut restaurant in Newport, he starts to disappear.  It’s a simple but evocative story that treads a fine line between painful realism and beautiful symbolism, using characters with which you can easily empathise.  Pace is perfect, but the play sits on a knife edge; every time the story is about to run out of road, it takes a turn and creates a new momentum.  Quite an achievement to pull off a play where the lead character becomes increasingly insignificant in the real world.

Jimmy falls for Kitty, who dreams of being a psychology student and works as a phone sex worker to raise the money.  She is equally invisible but in different ways.  ‘Every action we do is connected to sex’, she says, then later, ‘isn’t everything… about money’.  These are the two things Jimmy most worries about, but they’re not what defines him.  There’s a lovely irony.  It’s a classic codependent relationship where the two are destined to be together – but will they?

Set against this backdrop are tiny, beautiful and rich moments of well observed detail that define who they are in their own lives.

To those who go to spoken word events, the style of this play will be strangely familiar.  To those who don’t, it might just appear strange.  But it’s a beautifully written, staged and acted play that delves deep into how some people really do disappear from our view, and questions what happens to them and what can they do to regain their presence?  More urgently, in our increasingly cynical world driven by sex and money, the play asks how important is love?


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “How My Light is Spent”

  1. Dafydd Shalders says:

    Very well put. It made me think about how important love is. Good to meet you yesterday too, Dafydd

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