Friday, May 27, 2011

You Can't... from Scratch.

The continuing saga of Thursday night at the Belltable.

If you don't know what I'm on about, start here.

So where was I? yes hot on the heels of 'Seige': Spilt Gin presented
Directed by Meave Stone.

It was explained to us as the work of several people: some disparate ideas that the group were hoping for a way to mesh together to make an interesting show that they could submit to the Dublin Fringe.

From this introduction, and from the piece itself, I would presume that the group has an ethos that champions a democratic and collaborative approach: involving much devising and experimentation to allow the work to emerge in an unforced organic way.

If I'm right, then I'd say that this is an approach that, (for all it's courage and good intentions) isn't working out that well, at least at this stage of the game.

I really didn't respond to this.

I mean, the acting/directing was good and tight but I couldn't personally see how they could ever marry all the different ideas into a show with any cohesion, nor could I see why anyone'd ever want to.

Okay, I'll explain it as I remember it:
there was an opening exchange between an 'old' woman and a young man (mother/son/grandson?) on the subject of her funeral. This was well-acted, engaging, reflective and fun;

the show stopped and we were treated to the sight of two chaps more or less standing there, ( one with some shades on ) while we heard an audio recording of an interview;

then next, I think, there was an exchange between two drug-addled people blathering on and on, which was so well written and so well acted that it was exactly as dull as being in a room with two drug-addled people blathering on and on ;

then we were back to listening to the tape;

we had another interesting reflective piece about a little boy/man and his mother/memory of his mother ;

we were back to the bloody tape again* .

So, as for glueing all these things together: there is almost definitely an audience out there for reflective and fun relationship stuff; there might even be an audience who like to observe 'the effects of drug-taking' realistically re-enacted ( especially if they become involved with the lives and point of view of the characters before the effects of psychotropic substances obliterate their personalities) ; there is, no doubt, an audience too for experimental theatre that toys with the notion of displaced time and realities through use of recordings, ( that audience doesn't include me, but then again a lot of things don't),but I could not see any of this ever forming a cohesive whole that would be satisfactory to all these very different sets of audiences and their expectations.

*Look, you can probably tell by now that I really hate 'taped bits', and I do, there was a bit in 'Treasures' on videotape that I didn't like either but the way it was used in 'You Cant..'— actually made me angry.

Now all this is very subjective and personal and I don't mean to be unfair but everyone has their personal pet-peeves and this went right off the scale of my personal pet-peevometer:

I suppose to me, the acting out of stories is what I go to see, and I don't care if the story is 'real' or not: I want the story to be good and the actor to be real.— In this thing, there is a 'reveal' of sorts where we discover that the person being interviewed is a 'real' person, with a real problem, but I just felt 'So What?' their 'reality' meant nothing to me: It was a tape, and nor am I astonished to discover that there are people in the world with real problems, I didn't get it.

Someone explain it to me.

It reminded me of the cacophony created by twelve different radios tuned to twelve different radio stations on a crowded beach.


YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE, THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING produced by Spilt Gin / Directed by Maeve Stone / Written by James Hickson, Máirín O'Grady, Dan Colley & Louise Melinn.

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