Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Dirty Protest "Repeat" / "An Oak Tree"

The latest Dirty Protest night was an experimental one:- not only taking place at a new venue – upstairs at Ten Feet Tall in Cardiff city centre; but also consisting of a single play – “Repeat” by Phil Porter – performed six times in a row, each time with a different director. The actors and directors (Simon Harris, Kit Lambert, Adele Thomas, Mared Swain, Julie Barclay, Gareth Bale) varied widely in terms of profile and experience, the cast sizes ranged from one to half-a-dozen, and it was a dizzying affair. The play itself (originally commissioned by London’s Drywrite Theatre Company) is less than ten minutes long, dark and fairly abstract, with a vague time-travel theme, and the author only offers a handful of stage directions, so a huge variety of interpretations was possible (e.g. domestic tragedy, mad scientist with tape recorder, scatological Victorian horror, surreal dance duet). Perhaps inevitably, given the nightclub atmosphere (I think we even had a fainter), the performances which worked best were those which found comedy in the piece; and by the time of the fifth and sixth renditions, the dialogue was so familiar that anticipating the rhythmic and thematic inventiveness of the directors became an entertainment in itself. A fascinating and, needless to say, highly entertaining evening.

A couple of nights ago I was part of another full house, this time at the Sherman in Cardiff, watching “An Oak Tree” by Tim Crouch, which has become something of a legendary (and award-winning) piece over its three-year touring history, because of its unique “gimmick” – Crouch plays a stage hypnotist, and the other cast member is an actor who has neither rehearsed nor seen the script beforehand. He/she plays an audience-member who is called up on stage, whereupon it turns out that the pair are linked by a recent tragedy. Crouch communicates with the other performer – in this case, local favourite Siwan Morris – sometimes sotto voce, and sometimes via earphones, this all being an essential part of the show as we live the experience of the two characters attempting to work through, variously, guilt and grief. During the Q&A afterwards, Crouch confirmed that the story - a fairly straightforward, poetic piece - came first, and the concept - a lost actor playing a lost character - followed; which made sense since a piece which might have been an empty experimental exercise packed a real emotional punch. As with all good theatre, the audience was called upon to do an awful lot of work, but it didn’t feel like work; it was a communal celebration of the fragility of the theatrical experience, and of life itself. Profoundly impressive.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home