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Mon 22nd – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Imogen O'Sullivan

at 09:53 on 23rd Aug 2011

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As eight very different looking women appear onto the stage without saying anything, the potential is set for an interesting piece of comedy looking at female identity in the 21st century, however, the minute the script kicks in, all hope of this is lost, as is every member of the audience.

What exactly the point of this piece is, I could not tell you. Occasionally, controversial statements are shoe-horned in; ‘the best are the ones that earn the most’ and a futile and incongruous mention is given to our governments ‘£30 billion pounds of debt’, but they seem to be a selection of lines chosen at random. The only elements of plot or characterisation apparent were a clichéd conflict between Nicola Leigh’s irritable farmer and Carys May’s looks-obsessed attention seeker and the development of a sweet but utterly random friendship between Bethan Johns’ hippy and Emma Prior’s self-confessed ‘weirdo’.

Most of the cast were extremely successful in creating archetypes that were well thought out and interesting, which is why it is a shame that they were used so ineffectually. Laura Hancock appears to be one of those actors with ‘funny bones’, with a distinct physicality that indicated real thought in character development, great use of facial expressions and comic timing. Leigh was also particularly well-received by the audience and Stephanie Garret and Katherine Ince both managed to create characters that I would have liked to see more of than simply spouting absurd lines that played to obvious clichés.

Maybe it is in the absurdity of the piece that the genius lay; it was certainly successful at keeping my attention whilst I tried as hard to fathom the mystery of what was going on as the characters themselves were, but in the end I got no more of an answer than they did. Certain moments showed some promise, such as the use of recorded voices to reveal internal monologues, but as a lot of the on-stage speaking seemed to be internal, causing no reaction from the rest of the cast, this again seemed pointless.

The overriding problem with this devised comedy was that it was not funny. Comedy is so difficult to get right, and devised comedy is even harder, whilst this may have amused the cast in creation, the absurdity wasn’t surreal enough to find its niche in that type of comedy whilst interposed with jokes on technology and pop culture that were not grounded within a realist enough setting to succeed in that area either. Ince concludes the piece by sermonising on the ‘series of random moments’ that make up life, presumably some sort of explanation for the incomprehensible performance. However, whilst the company might be ‘OK with that’, I’m not.

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Kate Abnett

at 12:31 on 23rd Aug 2011

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The play’s title refers to the moments our lives are made up of – fleeting and delicate, something that happens in a split second can completely throw the prescribed path of a person’s life into chaos. However, it felt like the writing focussed more on the annoying way the word is used by teenagers to mean kooky. The watchable Emma Prior’s character was exactly that kid – she announced to the audience “I’m weird”, and spurted Noel Fielding-esque nonsense about pancakes and bearded dragons.

Oddness continues the whole way through, from the sign saying ‘This is not funny. Is it?’ that a little old lady showed the audience, to the acapella version of Under Pressure that cast tentatively launch into, to the Back to the Future quotes that characters tell one another. Utterly unexplained, such instances weren’t interesting or funny enough for the audience to really care to try and decipher their significance. Similarly, the setting of the piece is not communicated and the group of women on stage have no clue as to why they have been ‘summoned’ there. The programme refers to these mysteries as “perverse and almost funny”, but in truth they are not made exciting enough by the writing, and the cast’s portrayal of their characters was much too calm to suggest the situation was volatile or even dramatic.

The characters deal in stereotypes, and what the audience judges from the appearance of each character tells them all that they will be finding out about them – the one in the wellies is the no-nonsense farmer, the kaftan-wearer is the hippie. Inner thoughts are communicated to the audience through voiceovers, which would have been a good way to give these two-dimensional figures more depth. However, what we hear are mostly questions like “why are we here?”, which reveal nothing further about the characters’ insides or their situation. The all-female cast were engaging enough for it to become clear that their characters were just not well-written enough to really come to life.

The piece had moments of humour, and a scene in which an old lady cannot work her mobile phone had the more senior members of the audience in stitches.

I felt the best bits of this production were the themes it touched upon, but never really developed. Cryptic messages, like “all you hear is nonsense” sparked a potentially insightful discussion, as the characters were asked to evaluate the ‘integrity’ of the information they were being given.

The broad plot of the piece (strangers put in an odd place together, where they learn about themselves and each other) unfolds very predictably. This show is the theatre company’s first time performing together, and it certainly feels like a maiden voyage. As the young cast and writer gain confidence and experience, I would be interested to see how their future projects develop and improve.

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Comments

Neil O'Sullivan; 24th Aug 2011; 15:58:11

Personally I enjoyed the fractured nature of the piece. Perhaps it could have been a bit more visual but there were some lovely performances and I wouldn't mind seeing it all again! My favourite show of the week!

Neil O'Sullivan; 24th Aug 2011; 15:58:53

Personally I enjoyed the fractured nature of the piece. Perhaps it could have been a bit more visual but there were some lovely performances and I wouldn't mind seeing it all again! My favourite show of the week!

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