In more ways than one, Raymondo is an exercise in the power of paring back. The stage is set with nothing but household furniture—rugs and domestic lamps en masse—but it feels warm and alive. And most importantly, it forms the perfect hidey-hole to snuggle in and listen to Annie Siddons tell her grotesquely beautiful, tragic and uplifting tale.
If that sounds like a bunch of contradictions then you have the measure of Siddons’ untamed brilliant writing. Raymondo and his brother Sparky have lived in a basement since their mother locked them there six years ago, and only effect escape when the chance death of a pigeon gives them a means to (quite literally) fashion their way out by making an extraordinary-ordinary cape.
Siddons’ prose is jewelled with everyday filth – pigeon blood makes a "splash of scarlet"; one of the heroines’ hair smells of "cooking fat and Worcester sauce". The story would make a fine read by itself. But her performance lifts it to another level. She is an outstanding storyteller, textured and musical, with her mic amped up so high that even her breaths, swallows and soft lipsmacks become punctuation in the tale. Accompanied by Daniel Green’s ever-present never-invasive music, Raymondo takes on the feel of a vivid, comic-book rollercoaster ride.
There are a few meta-literary interjections in there that feel a bit too pleased with themselves; the writing is rich and wacky enough without them. But Siddons will make you feel like a child again as she wraps you in her very grown-up tapestry.