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Posts Tagged ‘Terry O’Donovan’

This very original and inventive piece is ostensibly about market research, and focus groups in particular, but it’s more than that – it’s sub-title is ‘How to stare down and transfigure loneliness’. It’s created by Stu Barker, Clare Dunn and Terry O’Donovan, who also perform, but it says it’s ‘after’ deceased American novelist David Foster Wallace, though I’m not sure why.

The audience are in two banks of seating, facing each other. Whilst one is the focus group, in the first instance being asked questions about a food brand, the other is being asked to spot types and characteristics in the audience facing them. You can’t entirely hear what they are saying on the other side, intentionally. There are further sessions where each group has a different task. In between, the relationships of the three researchers and their absent boss unfold whilst they play table-tennis, but the focus is mostly on Terry, whose life we peer into in more detail in a series of rather haunting impressionistic scenes. Eventually we get to sample and give feedback on a new cake!

It’s very clever in the way it draws you in and engages you. The participation isn’t in the slightest bit uncomfortable. The jollity of the focus groups is an extraordinary contrast to the dead silence during Terry’s story. There’s insight into market research, but more than that. I’m still processing it.

Only two more performances, but on tour later in the year. Do catch it.

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I became an instant fan of site-specific, immersive theatre company Dante Or Die when I saw their show I Do in the Hilton Docklands (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/i-do) a couple of years ago. A short while into this second, smaller, more intimate show I realised why they stand out from the others – it’s the quality of the storytelling.

The location this time is Urban Locker at Old Street, one of a fast growing number of self-storage units our 21st century lifestyles demand. I’ve never been inside one, a maze of differently sized lockers and rooms, so that was an experience in itself. It’s an inspired idea and a brilliant way of telling the story of 28 years of Zoe’s life, from the departure of her brother on his world travels to moving in with her boyfriend, marriage and motherhood to divorce, through all the things we accumulate through our lives.

It works on a lot of levels. The intimacy means you engage with Zoe’s story from the first scene, so much so that you become personally possessive about her stuff in the clever final scene. There’s also a great sense of times changing, through clothes, music, objects and even behaviour. Everyone can identify in some way with something here, some closer or with more than others, but all in some way, and that’s what makes it such a poignant and moving piece.

It’s the same creative team as I Do – Daphna Attias, Terry O’Donovan and Chloe Moss – with just seven actors, six walk-in lockers, three stage managers and an awful lot of stuff! A very original idea, fine writing by Chloe Moss, fascinating space and excellent performances. I really engaged with this show emotionally, with feelings of nostalgia (though realising The Traveling Wilburys Handle With Care was 28 years old came as a bit of a shock!), empathy, warmth, sadness and happiness and I warmly recommend you see it in its final week.

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This is one of the best site-specific shows I’ve ever seen. It takes you ‘behind the scenes’ to the final hours before a wedding just where modern weddings tend to be – in a 4* hotel.

In six groups, you go to six bedrooms, each group in a different sequence. They belong to the groom, the bride & her bridesmaids, the best man, the bride’s mum, her grandparents with the final one the bridal suite for that night. In each a scene is played out with the actors ignoring your presence in the room to the point of bumping into you, or in my case falling on top of me!

People come and go, including a surreal maid listening to her iPod obsessed about leaving comments cards. Secrets, regrets, back stories all emerge and you get to know the characters intimately – at one point we were all in a bathroom watching the best man rehearse his speech in the mirror! I won’t say any more as it will surely return.

At the end all six groups are in the corridor and you see the comings and goings that have been taking place outside the rooms whilst you were in them. It’s cleverly written by Chloe Moss, faultlessly performed by a crack cast and it’s a logistical marvel, but its also very funny and occasionally deeply moving. You really do feel as if you’re peering into people’s lives.

Dante or Die and their directors Daphna Attias (who directs this) and Terry O’Donovan (the best man) are new to me but I’m locking on to them with my theatrical radar. Good to see the Almeida co-producing something like this too. More please!

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