(4 / 5)
In the brick theatre of the Bikeshed, we are separated into singular seating, correspondent to our numbered headphones. Instantly we are dubious of what is about to happen especially when you end up in the front row and your guest is right at the back.
The only other things in the room apart from us spaced out is a large projection screen and a lectern. The projection screen acts as our welcome party before we are delved into sheer darkness.
Fiction sees us travel through a world of imagination and suggestion. Being in pure darkness, we feel vulnerable and open to the elements. Therefore sounds effect us more than normal, we do not feel as safe as we normally would and suddenly there are voices describing and taking you through an almost apocalyptic world and story.
One hour of this would, from the outside, seem tiresome but somehow the content of the narrative and what we create in our mind keeps the entire experience interesting and new.
The wonderful thing about this event is that while the narrative is the same, our own minds create a world that would be different to the next person. An uncertainty of whether the person speaking is sat next to you or not – yet you still do not reach out and move despite a 95% assurance it’s all coming from the headphones.
Fiction is very clever, intense and very simple, yet brilliantly executed. Such a clever experience is very unique and totally worth undertaking.
(4 / 5)
A simplistic staging – we are greeted with a blank space, the floor filled with cylindrical tubes and in the corner, a dolphin.
Immediately this is comical and theme of comedy runs through this clever piece to counteract the raw topic. Tell Me Anything is the theatrical adaptation of David’s teenage years with his first love, who happens to have an eating disorder. This takes over their love and their relationship, as we see his side of the story. This is a new take on such a topic, seeing it through the eyes of a loved one, without the character whose disorder it is. David makes it very clear that his development of the piece isn’t without his former girlfriend, and now friend, Kate’s input and knowledge of the piece.
With mostly a true narrative, excerpts from his diary, emails and memories, it’s hard not to feel warmth in the piece and the love he had at the age of 15. Unfortunately the only thing with this is that is feels a little fairy tale; the ‘true love’ tales of conversations, feelings and interactions seem so blissful that at times it’s hard to really believe such things; the performance then feeling a little fantasy like – or maybe that is just the cynic in me talking?
David interacts with us constantly – his narration directed to us, involving us by asking us questions and also asking us to close our eyes and put ourselves in his shoes – this feels intimate and struck a chord with myself as being asked to envisage someone we love just as he describes his love for Kate, bringing up personal feelings of loss, love and all the in between.
The lovey dovey nature, soon takes comical turns when he creates satires through his energy and vocal inflections to show the silly nature of 15 year olds. And then it gets dark – his anger, his hopelessness and his pain shines through, even 14 years later it is evident on his face and in his performance. A theme throughout is that it isn’t about him, it’s about her, but this shows exactly how invested he is in his story to show both sides, without the other participant.
The lighting is simple, and it changes to flicker when anxiety and anger rises. The tubes are like a minefield, or like ‘treading on egg shells’ as he manoeuvres himself through them– the more the story deteriorates and their relationship does, the tubes and their movement by David as less controlled and begin to fall. An interesting representation of control and descent of happiness. And of course, the dolphin. The representation of being the dolphin who gently helps and nudges those in need, is brought in as support, strapped to David’s back, and later, is let out of air and crumbles as David does.
Tell Me Anything is full of theatrical symbolism, heartfelt emotion and a real life and raw story. A piece of theatre that resonates with anyone who has tried, hopelessly, to help someone they love.
(4 / 5)
Back into the underground bunker of The Bikeshed Theatre, this week sees the company Ridiculusmus who have been bringing funny yet thought provoking theatre to venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, Soho Theatre, Barbican, National Theatre, Royal Court and The Arts House, Melbourne for around 20 years.
Artistic directors and performers of this piece Give Me Your Love, Jon Haynes and David Woods take a look at PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) within a former soldier of the most recent of wars in Iraq, basing this in West Wales. They take a humorous look at this condition but filling it with strong metaphors which in balance work well to really make us think about the disorder.
The majority of the 1 hour show is mostly purely a conversation between Zach who is in a cardboard box, for his own safety (or so he believes) and his friend, Ieuan, and occasionally his wife Karen. With all of these characters, we never see their faces. Karen is in a different room shouting through the wall; Ieuan Is trying to get into the room through the chained door, his only presence represented by his speech and his hands/arms peeking through and of course our main character, Zach, is always in the box. This interesting take on theatre is brilliant and simplistic. It takes a lot within creation, writing and the skills of the performers to be able to bring such comedy, the issues and pure emotion to an audience without much physicality or facial expressions.
The narration is great; it is as if the characters are having a simple chat, going back to the issue at hand but occasionally having a moment of off topic interaction. Somehow this makes the unordinary visuals seem very naturalistic – with Welsh accents as well, are perfect and I guess with the sing song nature of the Welsh accent, adds to the humour.
Taking my parents, we later discussed how clever and important this piece of theatre is, and whether the performers themselves were Welsh as they seemed to be on point with Welsh humour. I do wonder whether some humour was lost a little on the audience as it did touch upon things that we agreed may be more comical to the Welsh or those familiar with Welsh culture and humour. Despite this, there was plenty of comedy and strong emotional moments that visibly effected the audience in obvious ways.
Give Me Your Love is such an important production to see – Zach is seen to say that he has put himself in the box – and while this is represented physically, it also has huge representation to how we see PTSD ourselves. How society coaxes suffers into this one box and not taking in that each person is human and different. If you do not get a chance to see this production, so many emotions and thoughts will be starved of its theatrical influence.
(3 / 5)
Entering into the underbelly of The Bike Shed Theatre, we are greeted by a solo man dancing vigorously to unidentifiable music. The North! The North! Sees the story of one man in a post-apocalyptic / alternative universe to our world as we know it. The story features a narrative that is wildly imaginative and creative, and extremely unusual. People have deformities, the world has had shortages and events during the 1970’s/1980’s that never happened in our world – essentially anything and everything is possible.
This one man show is full of energy, changes in characters which still always feel like that have a sense of the main character, adding to the strangeness of the story and is impressive with the detail from speech to action to stage and how It is all memorised.
Speaking of stage – while small, the stage is full of technological surprises. Projection is used heavily with a Mighty Boosh-esque cartoons to give place, to show props and add to the storyline. This involves being precise and well-rehearsed which he is. Each time, it brings a new joy and intrigue.
The performer himself is endearing and speaks to us like we understand this world – something so extraordinary, he does not dumb down his tale and we feel engaged and interested.
A strange but interesting production – my mother who attended said she felt as if she had ‘been involved in his own personal acid trip’ – which easily sums up this adventure.