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Posts Tagged ‘Tristan Bernays’

I haven’t seen so much immersive / site-specific theatre of late. So much of it seems to have become overblown in scale or presented as novelty parties, with more serious fare suffering from inappropriate audience engagement. This one revolves around a party, but its just twenty or so guests in an apartment, with three actors, and an attentive audience engaged with the story as it unfolds.

It didn’t get off to a good start for me as I hadn’t received my email instructions of where to go and was sending desperate messages 100 minutes before, given it was with a 70 minute journey across London to that part of town. I was beginning to think this was part of the experience; a game of dare, perhaps. They responded, I headed off, with enough time to pick up some booze as instructed, and of course I was the first to arrive for Anna’s secret 30th birthday party!

Guests were introduced and people began chatting before we had to be silent for the surprise. Anna hugged us all in turn, knowing our names, and on we went to cake and presents. Then it took a darker turn, followed by an even more surprising, intriguing, somewhat surreal one. After an hour, we headed home.

It’s a clever idea, well executed and performed, but for me it ended just as it got going. It seemed unfinished, or didn’t know where to go next. I felt it was too slight, lacking in depth. What could have been a great experience was just a good one, more work-in-progress than finished piece.

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The week’s third new British musical turns out to be more of a play with music, a story with music even, but its a very good one

We spend an evening with Teddy & Josie, individually and together, as they get ready for, and go on, a night out in 1950’s Elephant & Castle, where the Southwark Playhouse is located. They are part of that post-war group of Teddy boys and girls, the country’s first teenage rebels, who subverted Edwardian dress (hence Teddy’s – I didn’t know that before) to create a cool new style, with attitude. Rock & Roll is arriving from the US and both are fans of Johnny Valentine & the Broken Hearts. From their respective bedrooms to some wasteland to the Coronet cinema to a club where Johnny is doing a secret gig, they tell us a lot about their lives and what the Ted’s are all about – and they fall in love.

Tristan Bernays play is great storytelling and it’s in verse, which is inspired and brilliant. The excellent onstage four-piece band play Dougal Irvine’s period perfect original songs (and a few others) starting 15 minutes before the show and continuing after. Even though its effectively a two-hander, it gets superb staging from Eleanor Rhode, who was also responsible for the terrific revival of Toast at the Park Theatre last year. Joseph Prowen and Jennifer Kirby and both fantastic as Teddy & Josie, looking and sounding perfect 50’s, including poses and facial expressions that seem straight out of the period.

It took me a short while to get into the rhythm of the piece, and for the sound to settle, but then it drew me in and captivated me. A very original work, highly recommended. You can even get a download of three songs with the programme, which surely must be a first!

 

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