Here’s our latest dose of top-notch current and upcoming theatre in London, all for under £15. This week’s selection includes an ethical puppet show, eight short plays in one and Neil LaBute’s return the London stage.
Right Now – Bush Theatre – £10 matinees for students, over 60′s, unemployed and disabled, £12.50 for students, unemployed and disabled on evening performances – until 16 April
“Right Now is a play with a dark heart, a disquieting exploration of one woman’s crisis and darkest desires. It walks a delicate line between playful laughter and deep trauma, teasing and thrilling audiences from beginning to end.”
Reasons to be Happy – Hampstead Theatre – £10-15 tickets for students and under 30s – until 23 April
“Neil LaBute’s romantic comedy explores “unfinished business”: even though couples breakup and friends may drift apart, certain relationships never really cease. But does stepping backwards ever bring true happiness? Or is it actually sometimes the only way to secure it?”
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea – Theatre N16 – £12/10 – 3-14 April (No shows Friday or Saturday)
“A fierce dance of the displaced, Theatrum Veritatus brings an explosive, deeply affecting study of alienation and the redemptive power of love. Two castaways fight their way to each other and cling violently in a sea of hardship for a chance at the happiness afforded to most but denied to them.”
Leaper – Little Angel Theatre – £10/8 – 8-10 April
“Although it sounds like a tale from a children’s story, the reality is that fish are starting to disappear from our rivers and seas. Why? And how can one little girl help stop it? Leaper: A Fish Tale follows one fish’s magical quest against the ever-growing natural and man-made monsters in our seas.”
Twelfth Night – The Hope Theatre – £14/12 – 12-30 April (No shows Sunday or Monday)
“Following last year’s critically acclaimed and award-nominated The Tempest, Thick as Thieves return to The Hope Theatre with one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies. Expect high energy, breakneck costume changes and sparkling wit as our company of four actors takes on all thirteen roles.”
We we were told to wait under a bridge. A bridge in Hackney Wick. We were anticipating the latest immersive zombie experience to hit London – Virtually Dead. Produced by Bearded Kitten this was a zombie experience with an added dimension… We were also to be testing out HTC Vive’s brand new virtual reality headset!
A military jeep pulled up under the bridge and two soldiers stepped out and lined us up against the wall. Asking if we had done any specific training prior to this, we decided not to mention our recent trip down memory lane playing ‘House of the Dead’ late one night in Shepherds Bush. Someone said, ‘Time Crisis’ and was immediately shot down by the Sarge. These games would be no help to us when faced with the real thing. The reality, however, was these recent arcade trips were actually going to come in very handy…
Once transported to base, we went through basic training and encountered a series of soldiers who gradually revealed bits of the story. We came face to face with the ‘Phoenix’ virus in a very unnerving fashion, and then were eventually led into the main part of the event – testing the HTC Vive.
This was our first true taste of headset virtual reality and it was mind bending. Full 360 degree immersion with the ability to move, look around, crouch and duck and most importantly, blow zombies’ heads off with Desert Eagles, sawn-offs and Uzis. This was really cool gaming and very easy to pick up. We completed the game in record time, although we almost got noshed in the mines.
The small boy inside us was having a whale of a time and could have stayed in that room for another two hours. However, as the test ended we were suddenly aware of a panic in the real world and were rushed into a more thrilling section of the story, to face more undead and eventually discover the reason why we were needed…
Basically this was a glorified video game testing experience. On its own as an immersive zombie experience it probably wouldn’t warrant the price of the ticket, such was the slightly rough and ready nature of the storytelling, the slightly longwinded various intros and the basic arc of our story in the Cultek base. However for immersive theatre fans and zombie aficionados such as the Ginger Wig, put together any of the basic ingredients of scares, blood and guts, gunshots and, of course, audience participation and we will be very happy. Had it not have been for the Ginger Wig barricading several doors we would probably have finished the experience with fewer recruits than we started.
The real credit however, must go to HTC Vive for this impressive new technology. Being born in the 90s and experiencing much of the recent technological developments, it was clear that this was the first step towards a whole new world of technological possibilities. We knew it was coming but we didn’t know how cool and how much fun it would be. At £650 a pop though, you might want to wait for the price reductions.
Highlight of the show – testing the HTC Vive and coming face to face with a test subject in the lab. Our companion said, ‘it was the only time I thought of doing the emergency ‘hands on head get me out of here’ sign. Sadly in the darkness it wouldn’t have made much difference.
We met up with the brilliantly subversive, Balloons Theatre, at Theatre N16 to discuss their show ‘The Rules of Inflation’. A sociopathic clown torments four characters identified only by colour through a series of children’s party games. Audience members are then asked to vote for one of the colour characters. The result was one of the most experimental and daring pieces of theatre the Ginger Wig has seen. Here is our conversation with Bryony Cole (Yellow), BJ McNeill (Pink), Emily Sitch (Green), Nastazja Somers (Blue) and Joshua Webb (the Clown) about political theatre, the show’s unofficial sponsor and the Bedford pub poltergeist…
Ginger Wig: Hello Balloons Theatre! Thank you for speaking to us.
Balloons Theatre: Thank you for having us, Ginger Wig!
GW: What was your process for ‘The Rules of Inflation’?
Emily: It hasn’t been normal. It’s basically been locking ourselves in rooms for eight hours and playing and playing and playing. We generated about ten hours of material!
GW: Does anyone take the lead?
Josh: In rehearsals it is always the same – the clown is in charge!
GW: Does anyone act as director?
Emily: We are terribly communist. But it got to the point where we needed a pair of eyes watching so about a month ago we got a lady called Louise in who is a dramaturge to give us a hand.
BJ: To see if we were successful in conveying our message or not.
GW: There are so many possible interpretations of your piece and potential messages. Do you as a group share a clear idea of what your message is?
Nastazja: Last week we did’t know what we were doing – hysteria was beginning. So we sat down with this massive piece of wrapping paper – it’s our script now – and we went through everything and wrote down what the messages were behind every scene and what it meant to us. You can make ambiguous theatre, but the message will never be there unless the performers know exactly what they are doing.
Emily: And it wasn’t just scenes, it was specific moments. There are a million and one transitions. We wanted to make sure every single moment in our piece meant something.
GW: What kind of response have you been getting?
BJ: It’s very mixed.
Bryony: Everybody has been so shell-shocked. It’s been really nice to come back to people a few days later and discover that it’s been on their mind for days and they’re still processing it. I just love that.
Emily: Because it’s immersive we feed off the audience. So every show is different. The first night was very serious, there wasn’t a laugh, and we came off thinking what have we done? The second night was a completely different story. And then the third night was crazy, it was packed out and people were laughing at every single moment. It felt a bit manic. Then yesterday we had a matinee with a very small audience and it felt amazing and intimate.
Bryony: It really worked.
BJ: We always knew there were going to be some people who would like what we did and some who wouldn’t. Then beyond like and dislike there would be people who would understand certain motifs and others who wouldn’t. Some would connect with something such as colour or smell or balloons popping. We walk a fine line between theatre and performance art. We want people to receive our work differently.
Josh: We want to start a conversation.
BJ: Totally. If you walk out of the last show and you’ve got ten five star reviews, what does that really say about your show – if everyone is thinking the same thing? I think we prefer the variety of reactions.
Emily: We always said from day one we would like every single person to come out arguing and thinking something different.
Nastazja: You focused on the sensory aspects. Another reviewer noticed the floor wiping with the Union Jack. Someone else pointed out the party game theme. Someone concentrated on what political theatre is. One of our friends didn’t get the politics at all. He said ‘I think you shoot yourself in the foot putting Trump and Cameron on the posters because there’s nothing in there.’ Another friend came who is very political and thought pass the parcel reminded him of voting systems in the west. It’s open.
GW: There is a great speech in your show. Whose speech was it?
Nastazja: I put together a lot of famous speeches including the Thatcher one, ‘the lady’s not for turning’ and obviously ‘Mexico and the wall’ because everyone is talking about it. There are also less known speeches, like the David Cameron one. I’m not sure people even realise it’s Cameron, it could be Tony Blair. ‘I know… how much you hate the extremists who are seeking to divide our communities and how you loathe that damage they do.’ It’s a speech of fear, planting fear in peoples head. Then one going on about a ‘modern…
They all join in: Compassionate. Conservative. Party.’
They all laugh.
Emily: Where everyone is invited!
Nastazja: I tried putting Obama in there and it just didn’t flow. I realised maybe it’s because he means what he says.
GW: Who gets voted for the most?
All: Pink and Yellow!
GW: Why do you think that is?
Bryony: Yellow because I think she is fun. The comic relief.
Emily: The Boris Johnson.
BJ: I think Yellow represents a safe place. Because a lot of the content isn’t so safe people go ‘Oh! That’s happening! – Yellow looks nice’. I think Yellow represents escapism. Then someone said to me Pink represents the person that says ‘fuck you’ to the man. He’s the closest to real life.
Bryony: The voting has been really interesting.
BJ: Maybe people just like pink and yellow.
Emily: Yeah, I mean how basic is it? Why do you vote?
Nastazja: Someone voted clown yesterday.
Josh: Just the one. It’s strange because afterwards people say they wanted to vote for the clown, just to see what would happen. But no one ever does. I think they’re scared of what might happen.
Nastazja: There are rules! Can you break the rules?
GW: Having followed the build up to your show on social media, we realised we had forgotten about the clown. Was it intentional to keep him hidden?
Emily: Keep him wrapped up!
Nastazja: Two days before the opening we decided to release the clown.
GW: And who made the trailer?
Josh: My brother. He does it for a living. He made it for us in a day. A lot of this piece has been favours, brothers, sisters, friends.
Nastazja: Poundland! This show has been sponsored by Poundland!
Emily: It used to be the 99p store and now its Poundland, what does that say…
They all laugh.
GW: So outside of the show what are your favourite party games?
BJ: Something to do with dancing for me.
Nastazja: I like charades.
Emily: Musical statues?
Bryony: I was thinking spin the bottle?
Nastazja: Musical statues is never going to be the same to me again.
Emily: Mine would be something to do with cards. I love cards.
GW: Have your characters’ relationships changed over the run?
Bryony: The relationship with the clown is so different for each of us. But every night we all feel the same thing. It’s weird – it’s such an intimate space. We share these moments that feel quite real sometimes. One night we all felt really sad and emotional.
BJ: There’s a lot of us in our characters. We use a lot of our own lives and things from our past as you would in any acting performance. But this is a bit closer to home, it’s a bit sensitive and sentimental for us.
Nastazja: I think we all tell such strong messages in this piece. For me it’s the musical chairs. The clown tells me to dance like a whore and the audience starts laughing. Everyone thinks ‘this is going to be hilarious’ and I take off my top and everyone’s like ‘yea…h’ and then it’s not funny anymore. It’s quite empowering to see that reaction in people. They start seeing the objectification of women as something disgusting. It hits them in some way.
Emily: That’s when the balloons come in handy. That’s what we started out with – a balloon. That was our… what do you call it?
BJ: ‘Original impetus.’
The others laugh at BJ for his accurate terminology.
Emily: Basically, we found a balloon in the street. People have a relationship with balloons. My mum hates balloons – the noises in particular – so straight away we had something rich to play with…
Nastazja: …the things that balloons are not. Making balloons into a penis or a pregnancy, the idea that if a ballon drops someone dies – the imaginary power of it. How a popping balloon becomes a gunshot. It brought the child out in all of us.
GW: BJ and Nastazja you are also part of No Offence Theatre. You’re taking a show to the Brighton Fringe?
BJ: Yes we’re going to the Brighton Fringe with a play I’ve written called ‘Torn Apart (Dissolution)’. It’s quite different to this.
Nastazja: It’s naturalism meets abstract continental theatre. It’s nothing like this experimental piece of bonkers theatre. We did a preview here in November and it was quite well received – five star reviews and…
There is much laughter among the group.
Emily: Drop that in.
BJ: Basically it’s a play about love and relationships and three couples that are together, but for different reasons are being torn apart.
GW: And what’s happening next for Balloons Theatre?
Bryony: We are in talks with Edinburgh. We are hoping to get there.
Emily: It definitely belongs at a festival. Ideally we want a circus tent with thousands of balloons and drunk people.
BJ: Or as an isolated art piece or site specific with small audiences.
Emily: Like at a playground…
BJ: I think we’d be arrested. We are putting out feelers for other spaces. It will live on but we are just not sure in what capacity.
GW: Do you have any funny stories from your time working on ‘The Rules of Inflation’?
Emily: The poltergeist!
Josh: Oh yeah! This building is haunted.
Emily: It is one of the top haunted buildings in London! We were downstairs rehearsing, and the lights just switched on and off and on and off again.
Bryony: We were playing quite a dark game as well.
BJ: Surprise surprise.
Josh: And then it just went silent. And then… Wow…
They all laugh.
Emily: It’s still with him! Then last night, we are at the end of the show, Josh the clown is dead on the floor.
Nastazja: The most dramatic moment in the whole play.
Emily: Silence. Above Joshua’s groin there is a cock shaped balloon that we filled with helium. We didn’t normally do those as helium ones…
Josh: …I said pre-show don’t fill up a willy balloon with helium. It doesn’t look good.
Emily: So Josh dies and this balloon, very slowly, vertically, falls onto Josh’s crotch.
They are all giggling at this stage in the story.
Emily: And it’s there.
Bryony: Literally pointing up to the heavens!
They are all laughing.
Bryony: BJ and I held it together actually.
They all crack up.
GW: What’s it been like working as an ensemble?
Nastazja: It’s great. We are all really honest with each other. Brutally honest.
Emily: It’s got to be like that otherwise we would never get anywhere.
Nastazja: There is no time for diplomacy, you just want to create, you don’t want to get stuck with ideas because someone is being precious. But we have a laugh. Otherwise we would kill ourselves.
Emily: Blind man’s bluff with the clown was the worst experience of my life. We contemplated putting that in but it just doesn’t work for an audience to watch it.
Nastazja: It was terrifying.
Josh: We locked everything. The lights went out, all the colours were wearing blindfolds and then I just got weird with it…
Bryony: Got handsy…
They all laugh.
GW: Well, thank you so much for letting us into your mad world. We wish you all best with the future of ‘The Rules of Inflation’!
Balloons Theatre: Thanks Ginger Wig!
Keep up to date with Balloons Theatre on Twitter and Instagram @BalloonsTheatre. ‘Torn Apart (Dissolution)’ will be at the Brighton Fringe from 28-30 May at Distrikt.
A delightful evening of theatre was in store for us as we headed to the Tabard Theatre for the first time to see our first show from Rough Haired Pointer. Just down from Shepherds Bush at Turnham Green we should really consider this one of our local theatres.
‘The Young Visitors’ is a novel by nine-year-old Daisy Ashford written in 1890. Having been rediscovered in a drawer a few years later, it gained quite a reputation as it was passed among her friends in the early 20th century. With the help of J. M Barrie it was eventually published and later turned into a play and musical. Its popularity has continued to grow and it is now regarded as a cult classic. This version by Rough Haired Pointer certainly showed why.
A company that celebrates the elements of play and chance in live drama, Rough Haired Pointer were perfect for realising nine-year-old Daisy’s story. With childlike freedom and much hilarity they brought to life Mr Salteena, who longs to be a gentleman, Ethel Monticue, a young lady with a silly run and Bernard Clark, a nobleman with very nice thin legs.
From the moment the ‘quear shaped parcel’ arrives, crashing down form the ceiling we were aware this piece was going to blend humour and farce. Furthermore the story was accompanied musically by a host of interesting instruments. Brilliant moments of theatrical design and direction were ever present throughout the play such as the umbrellas that rained, the washing of Mr Sulteena and the creation of boats, trains and a horse and cart with the simplest of props and sound effects.
Seeing this on its last night, it was clear the company were taking some unscripted risks. The terrified response from Bernard Clark on encountering a large toy spider in the picnic hamper suggested the spider did not make a regular appearance. Drinks, including an audience member’s G&T, were poured over heads and faces. Clearly the cast were having a great time.
It is such a pleasure to see a group of actors really enjoying performing, whilst keeping the fundamentals of telling a lovely story in an engaging fashion. We will be keeping our eyes on Rough Haired Pointer. Great work from Mary Franklin (Artistic Director) Carin Nakanishi (Designer) Olivia Amory (Producer) Jordan Mallory-Skinner (Musical Director) and the entire cast of The Young Visiters. And having experienced such an entertaining night of theatre at the Tabard, we will certainly be returning to this local theatre.
Highlight of the show – Mr Sulteena’s manically depressed scarf juggle and Ethel Monticue’s Hendricks revival.
It is very hard to see something that has received so much hype. You cannot go in without expectations and expectations raised by hype are not always fulfilled. That is not to say that Duncan Macmillan’s powerful ‘People, Places and Things’ is not a tremendous piece of theatre. Dramatically, narratively, and visually this was exceptional and the performances from Denise Gough, Barbara Marten, Nathaniel Martello-White and the rest of the cast were fantastic.
The title of the play, people, places and things, refers to potential triggers for recovering addicts. Addicts are told to stay away from the people, places and things that remind them of using drugs. Unsurprisingly this is nigh on impossible for an addict. Lucy, an actress, struggles with the injustices of the world and problems in her own life and has turned to drink and drugs to survive. We meet her at the beginning of her first trip to rehab and follow her on her path to some sort of recovery, along which she faces many of the issues and characters a recovering addict meets on the wobbly climb to recovery.
Created by Headlong and the National Theatre, this piece had some impressive moments of staging and technology to bring to life Lucy’s moments of intoxication and withdrawal. Several actresses portrayed her many psychological and physical states on her frantic road to recovery creating powerful images on stage, as some climbed out of walls and others even more ingeniously out of her bed as she endured going cold turkey. The strobe lighting and visual projections also helped reflect the protagonist’s mental and physical states.
Denise Gough has created a career-changing character here in her portrayal of this feisty and troubled heroine, showing us the traumatic and tough path an addict must take in order to recover. The play runs at her pace and she drives it forward with her manic energy derived from her addiction, and slows it down with her pain. She deserves all the credits and accolades for this performance. Barbara Marten supports her in equally impressive style, playing three characters and showing an incredible versatility as her physicist, therapist, and mother. Nathaniel Martello-White turns in a powerful performance as Lucy’s friend, both struggling and then reforming in rehab. A speech he makes about the reasons for which he will go to hell is particularly moving.
We must also congratulate Duncan Macmillan who has written a fantastic play about the issues of addiction and, in a world of limited roles for women, created a fantastic part for a female actress. This is a play that is both funny, moving and startling in equal measure.
Naturally the only downside for us was coming to this some time after it has opened, particularly after all the hype. Then of course we had to deal with West End audiences, some of whom seem to think it’s ok to turn up as a party of six, 15 minutes late, chat, and generally treat the whole thing with less then the desired attention and respect it deserves. Oh well… This was a story that has been told and written about many times, in novels, TV and film, but this was the first time it has been brought to the mainstream theatre world. A brilliant creation by Headlong and the NT, this play was a hit to the system like no other and has made a star out of its lead. We only wish we had seen it at the National Theatre. Nonetheless, cracking theatre from everyone involved!
Highlight of the show – “I’m a seagull.”
‘People, Places and Things’ is running at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 18 June.
Office clowning is a great way to stick it to the grisly idea of being confined to an office all day, stamping, stapling, looking though bits of paper, having board meetings and dealing with office politics. Silent Faces have used exactly this approach in their new physical comedy show which is heading to the Brighton Fringe for 9th May and from 27th – 30th May.
Four office workers slowly descend into madness from their office selves. Their calm faces transform into pure horror as the show jumps to life. The limited office phraseology of ‘right’, ‘so’, ‘well’ and ‘okay’, sums up their collective responses and communication in the office. However, one by one, the lights above their heads are turned off. How will they respond? What will this mean for their status in the office?
The office phrases also give the characters their names. Jen Wakely as ‘So’ was extremely watchable as the head honcho, and her ridiculous shoulder pads were a brilliant and absurd tweak to her otherwise professional appearance. Cordelia Stevenson was very funny as an alternately officious and nervous office stooge. Megan Smyth was very likeable as the alternative one of the group, the only one who questioned the darker things going on this office. And Adam Deane as ‘Okay’ had the classic look of a clown and performed amiably along side the rest of the cast. Were all of them going to conform to the endless monotony of office life?
We had questions about the pacing of some sections and some of the costume choices. Questions concerning these particular issues were raised by the company at the end of the show. This was a company willing to listen to its audience to improve their work – an extremely brave but positive thing to do that can only be beneficial to this young company.
Really good work from Silent Faces Theatre combining clowning, physical theatre and classical music to create a funny piece of theatre on the joys or otherwise of working in an office. Check them out in Brighton if you are going down!
Highlight of the show – the Patrick Bateman-esque character appearing every so often with another package…
Silent Faces will be performing Follow Suit at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton at 19:00 on the 9th May and at the The Warren: Studio 2 at 14:45 between the 27th – 30th.
Every so often a show comes around that really knocks you for six. It goes beyond trying to explain anything to you and instead leaves you with a hundred questions. ‘The Rules of Inflation’ was performed at the brilliantly diverse Bedford pub (we witnessed dance classes, live music and of course the theatre under this one roof), and it was something completely different, arresting and fresh.
Meeting ‘Pink’ we were led into what could have been a children’s party, aside from the odd condom ballon camouflaged among all the other regular and beautiful balloons. ‘Green’ then took our phone number from us and we were then taken to our seat by cheerful ‘Yellow’. ‘Blue’ was elsewhere. Then the clown appeared, a dark and erratic figure, who proceeded to engage the others in a series of party games, games that he subverted and twisted at every opportunity. Children’s games were sexualised, people were tied to chairs, the rules were not followed. The clown was smearing lipstick onto the faces of the ‘colours’ marking them and sitting them out of the games. He was either having a great time or a horrid one. Nothing made sense, nothing seemed certain. The mood in the audience was palpable; uncertainty, fear and amusement? Whatever it was no one could avert their eyes…
We loved so much about this show particularly the space in between the chairs, ostensibly creating personal space, but in fact creating isolation and distance between audience members. There was no where to hide. Children’s games being subverted by an unstable sociopathic clown – what’s not to love about that? The use of fabric softener from ‘Blue’s’ balloon miscarriage, surreptitiously seeped into our nostrils, affecting the one sense so overlooked in theatre.
Devised organically this was performance art that asked many questions, and created many disparate moods. Clear from the start was that we would be voting for either ‘Pink’, ‘Green’, ‘Yellow’ or ‘Blue’. But how would we choose? Was it just a personality contest? Why did you vote for ‘Yellow’? How do we choose our actual leaders? Is it even worth voting at all? Do our leaders even care about us? Is politics just a circus for manipulators, megalomaniacs and psychopaths?
This is theatre that stays with you long after the event itself and compels you to talk about it. Brilliant work from everyone involved in The Rules of Inflation. Get down to Theatre N16 (actually in SW12) tonight or tomorrow to catch this rare piece of art!
Highlight of the piece – the balloon rubbing scene, the fabric softener, watching the other audience members and or course – cake!
The Rules of Inflation at Theatre N16 is on at 3:00pm and 8:30pm today (23rd) and 8:30pm tomorrow (24th) £12/10.
This was a variety show like no other. Led by the hilarious Sister Mary (Tim McArthur), we were presented with three different acts, in between which we were entertained with songs and jokes from Sister Mary. We were invited by Two Tongue Theatre so they will be our main focus…
This French duo have created a short comical piece, ‘Twisted and Tongue Tied’ that they are taking to the Brighton and Paris Fringe. Entering dressed as men, they danced together and made lewd jokes and gestures before undressing to admit they were women exploring the nature of the gender pay gap in Hollywood. This was followed by a protest. Although containing a few funny moments, this piece seemed to fall between two stools, a protest and a performance. It didn’t really work for us and fell a bit flat. Neither did the bilingual performance seem to add anything dramatically.
Simple things like not being in time together when dancing brought this piece down further. Aside from this however, they showed great energy throughout the performance. However, ending the show tying each other to chairs and gagging themselves, was just outright protest. They might as well take it to the streets. In a performance space they couldn’t even take a bow and had to be released by Sister Mary. Maybe a bit more thought is needed about what they are trying to do, because for us, it didn’t work as entertainment and it didn’t work as protest.
As for the other acts, Norvil the Magician was great fun, with a collection of rare songs, and impressive magic tricks to go with his silky magician’s voice. The best trick for us was when he ripped up a newspaper several times to then pull it part one last time and it reappeared whole. He also swallowed a needle and had an audience member retrieve it.
Emma Ralston, a musical theatre performer sung three songs, one of which was a hysterical new piece by Rhiannon Hopkins who accompanied her on the piano. Emma performed with impressive vocal control and a natural element of theatricality, keeping us glued to her every note.
Highlight of the show – Sister Mary – definitely a good reason to head out to the Cockpit Theatre on a Sunday! Full of gags and entertainment.
What does it take to get to the top of a big financial corporation? Hard work? Maybe a well-connected uncle? Prescription drugs? Developed in conversation with people working or interning in the financial sector, Engineer Theatre Collective have developed an extremely engaging and entertaining piece of theatre showing the grim realities of entering such a world and the kind of people you will meet there.
Four interns, Ana, Caroline, Lawrence and Tim, all from different backgrounds, start internships at a big company. Hardworking Ana is from Bosnia and is determined to get to the top and make a living for herself. Caroline is quieter but equally determined. Growing up in a Christian family expecting to become a missionary, she experienced doubt in her faith and came to the realisation that finance was the best route. Lawrence, is the one with the family contact, enjoys holidays in Sicily and is definitely the one we love to hate. As for Tim, new to London, he is slightly less sure of his path and the industry generally but like the others reluctant to give up easily. Together the four experiences present a snapshot of the lifestyles and scenarios arising from work placements of this type. Interns are literally waiting for metaphorical scraps to be thrown at them for their chance to take a step forward. One extreme experience has tragic consequences.
Although extremely quick witted, well-scripted and comedic, there was much more to this than the surface image of four interns struggling to get on. Brilliantly worked into the piece were some moments of physical theatre that took this show to another level. Aside from the very slick scene changes, the physical moments tended to focus on Caroline. Her pleasure at finally being thrown an opportunity, her lift daydream and her final circuit, worked seamlessly with the swift and sharp nature of the piece. The club scene involving everyone was also extremely effective in being comical whilst making evident the reality of how stupid clubbing is.
Brilliantly crafted by Engineer, they have combined an excellent script with some unexpected physical moments, that paired with effective sound (Dominic Kennedy), narrative and acting, to produce a very watchable and informing show. Co-directors Jesse Fox and Simon Lyshon have made some brilliant decisions in setting and presenting this piece, with the swift changes and motion, mimicking the slick and high paced world of the financial sector.
The acting throughout was of a very high standard from Gabriella Margulies, Charlotte Watson, Al Jarrett and Joseph Sentance. All four actors showed a maturity and ease in their characters that defied their age. Whilst RUN showed what is required to make an impact in the financial sector, this theatre company showed us what is needed to make a big theatrical impact. Keep your eyes on Engineer because these cats are going places!
Highlight of the show: Caroline’s daydream – brutally attacking Ana in the lift. Surreal physical theatre at its best!