Live Theatre’s latest scratch night displayed four incredibly different pieces about isolation. The pieces are all currently under development into longer works; however they each worked very well as one off character studies.
SOUND AND GUTS-BY TENDER BUTTONS
Although technically brilliant, and wonderfully timed, this piece tended to fall short in terms of character. The point that ‘Sound and Guts’ was trying to make was to do with a lack of emotion; and how our sense of emotion is developed by our relationships with other human beings. However as the monologue was spoken in a monotone, the content could have been more interesting. Vague poetic attempts were made in the words, but it was the interesting use of sound, lighting, projection and song that really captured the audience’s imagination. Movement around the stage and the various theatrical styles that were used were also appreciated to break up the monologue.
THE READING- BY GARY KITCHING
As the previous piece ended on a depressing ebb, the audience had to be turned around quickly in order to enjoy this much more humorous look at loneliness. The actors swiftly achieved this impressive feat moving from a stereotypical look at psychics, into a genuinely funny moment between a psychic and her spirit guide. By the end the tone of the piece had turned on itself again by becoming haunted (literally). The audience, stuck confused as to whether the psychic woman was acting, deluded or had genuine power were unprepared for such an emotional ending. As a result the shock and shouting whilst the psychic was torn away from her spirit guide (a figure that she seemed to relate to much more than any of the living humans she referred to), hit the audience hard. It was painfully relatable to a couple having an argument and breaking up due to it; and made even more tragic as the psychic didn’t even have that to fall back on.
MR DOOM AND MRS BLOOM’S STORY EMPORIUM- BY CARL KENNEDY AND ZOE LAMBERT
After the interval, this piece stormed onto the stage, accompanied by raucous swearing and accordion playing. Such a powerful entrance prepared the audience for a powerful piece throughout. In this short scene the theme of isolation built up slowly; hidden at first by brash dialogue and hilarity. One of the most tragic moments of the play was the death of Mr Aesop (Mrs Bloom’s supposed husband), but it wasn’t portrayed that way. Instead, between an impression of what a short and ugly man her husband was, and how even as he drowned he was giving her the finger, this moment was made incredibly funny, and obviously entirely fictional. The joke of the plot was that Mrs Bloom made up stories that were not only funnier, but more human and clumsily pieced together into something that depicted the chaos of life, better than the morals of Aesop’s fables ever could.
THE SOAKING OF VERA SHRIMP-BY ALISON CARR
This piece quietly made the night. At first the girl depicted just came across as slightly kooky: she was wearing a patent red raincoat and green wellies, and to begin with seemed to be talking us through the facts of the rain cycle, accompanied by quirky drawings. However as the audience was pulled into the performance, we began to realise how embedded the character’s eccentricities were. She grew from vulnerable, to delusional, and then eventually tragic. This allowed a careful and intelligent script to shine through; as it became clear that the girl could understand emotions, and articulate how they felt, yet had no-one to project her own feelings onto. Instead she desperately reaches out to raindrops, considering how they travel all around the world as a way of connecting herself to many people, and most especially her father. It is a poetic idea that was skilfully executed.
Technically the piece was also interesting. There was audience participation, but it was done minimally and as a method to express Vera’s desperation to connect to ANYONE. Occasionally theatrical moments were added to by the faint sound of raindrops on a roof.