Body 115 review

Jack Studio Theatre – until 11 May 2024

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Described as a journey in 31 cantos, Jan Noble’s Body 115 is a powerful poetic monologue about love and loss, and enduring history.

Body 115 was the name given to the body of a victim of the King’s Cross disaster, unidentified for 20 years. In Jan Noble’s classically inspired piece, Body 115 emerges from the London mud, imbued with history and pre-history, and becomes the narrator’s guide on his journey to find his lost love and reasons for his present state.

Noble’s writing is packed with visual imagery which, together with Justin Butcher’s direction, Tom Turner’s lighting design and Jack Arnold’s sound design, evoke dank subterranean rivers and windswept cliffs brilliantly on a stage empty except for a large suitcase.

Nothing is clear in Body 115 as time and settings change and merge as the narrator searches his soul. (The audience members are given a QR code for the Body 115 website with notes on many historical and mythical references, and recordings of readings of selected cantos as they enter that I am sure most made use of on leaving the performance.) Personal musings about what went wrong in his relationship provide quieter, more immediate connections with the audience and are something of a respite before we are swept along in the roiling mix of history and modern commentary. Here mythical and historical characters are in the mix with selfies, Brexit, football and folklore, we pass through the London below, red with Roman and Celtic blood and on to the camps at Calais, unable to fully escape our history but still struggling to change with the repeated line “As we go we grieve, as we move we mend”.

Noble’s performance is full of passion, and he commands the stage in this intriguing production. Body 115 demands attention throughout, it’s not a drama you can drift in and out of, but it is well worth the effort. A masterful performance of a stunning piece of writing.

Recordings and information about future performance dates can be found at: