Posts Tagged ‘Brian Ferguson’

The second ‘marmite’ play in three days, but the same reaction. Indifference. If you plan to see it, its probably better to stop here.

Writer / performer Tim Crouch (who doesn’t perform, for the first time) has written a play about a pair of fictitious American female conceptual artists who bear some resemblance to Gilbert & George, in that they live their art (and were probably taking the piss too). It’s ‘framed’ by a scholarship presentation by an art student and takes the form of the creation of a film about the artists (rehearsal, location reccies, filming, viewing). The interval is part of it and there’s a nice twist at the end, but it takes two hours to get there.

Though it’s a clever idea, it’s rather laboured in production and a bit too obtuse, so that if he’s making a point, it gets lost in the pursuit of cleverness. The first half really is slow and dull, but it does pick up after the interval (for those who stayed). It’s staged with the wings in view and the stage manager at the back with her ‘book’. There are two children who, for some reason, carry things and stand in for a dead dog and a body. They wear headphones and look away the rest of the time (to protect them, I suspect) and sadly don’t hang around for the curtain call (neither does the dog). There’s a man with a ponytail sitting in the wings for no apparent reason.

You can’t fault the acting (particularly good vomiting and dying from Brian Ferguson) and it does intrigue and surprise you at times, but it all seemed a bit pointless and rather self-indulgent to me, a sort of in joke. Perhaps he shouldn’t have directed it himself.

It lived up to its marmite reputation, with walkers and cheerers. Me? A yawner.

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Who’d have thought you could say so much in a 15 minute play. Multiply that by five and you’ve got a theatrical feast. Put them in normally unseen spaces all around the building for groups of less than ten and it adds another layer of fascination and a great deal of intimacy. This was a genuine treat.

You split into five groups and each group sees the plays in a different sequence. The first play my group saw took place in a dressing room with a balcony (now we know where the actors go for a fag!). Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Anhedonia is an intense story of a woman who has experienced sexual abuse and the actions she takes to hide it. The unusual union is a builder where she works, whose intuitively knows anyway. Rona Morison was compelling as Girl.

The Golden Hours by Frances Ya-Chu Cowing was set in a meeting room with extraordinary views of London’s rooftops, now a room where Shinger & June’s mother is laid to rest before her funeral, which was the subject of the brother & sister’s exchanges. Sarah Lam’s real tears at close quarter made this a deeply moving experience.

To a stairwell for Rachel De-Lehay’s My Twin, a captivating monologue by Sarah Ridgeway telling us her experiences of being the slightly younger twin. This was funny and touching in equal measure and felt like a one-to-one conversation.

Down underneath the stage in a workshop Phil, brilliantly performed by Alan Williams, tells us about his project to build a rocket in the garage where he works while the boss is away and his unusual union with the off-stage Helen who he meets at a slimming club and allows to rehearse in the garage for her Bowie tribute performance. Tom Wells’ Phil in Space is a quirky little comic gem which I didn’t want to end.

We ended with fighting and tension beneath the stage as two brothers, one in the army and the other in CND, discuss the evolution and history of their relationship. Appropriately called Bruises, Keiran Hurley’s play was superbly performed with great tension by Richard Rankin and Brian Ferguson.

I found it astonishing that you could get five very different plays of such quality, and such committed performances, that are only going to be seen by less than 150 people. Should it return, you should be queuing for tickets. Wonderful.

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