Not all subject matters and themes can be universal, but a performance needs to know its audience if it intends to communicate (and one would argue to keep your show in your living room should communication not be of any concern). Of course, we would like to think that there are shared fundamental truths in our human experience that connects between lives, but sometimes, one man’s meat is indeed another man’s poison. Say Hello First concerns itself entirely with romance and its implications on one’s self-image. It assumes that these themes are intrinsic and elemental, but for those who do not appreciate them quite so naturally, this play can present quite a challenge. There is no exploration into the autobiographical protagonist Danielle’s huge interest in the idea of “boyfriends” and her insistence at utilising them as mirrors into her own existence, and this is problematic for some audiences who might fail to understand this fixation. Appropriately, she is left stranded at the end of the play, bewildered by the inexplicability of it all.
From a technical perspective, design elements provide a gravitas to the production. Lighting and set are accomplished with a good level of professionalism. There is a strong reliance on projections, and those visuals are thoughtfully curated and presented. The set makes good use of the studio, establishing a space that enhances the intimate quality of the actors’ performances, and also provides an aesthetic that is delightfully whimsical (a quality the script seems to crave).
Joe Kernahan plays the objectified male through many different guises with great confidence, and brings a sense of lightness to the proceedings. Watching an actor have fun on stage is always a joy, and Kernahan certainly comes across as though there is nowhere else he would rather be. His dedication is impressive and along with his charming, spritely demeanour, would surely see him feature in more substantive work in the near future.