Reviewed – 28th September 2017
“with some further development has the potential to become a thought-provoking and complex piece of theatre”
Litmus Fest is the Pleasance Theatre Trust’s research and development festival. Now in its second year, it is the launch pad for six brand new shows over six days. Close Up, is one of those shows.
Devised and performed by Odd Eyes Theatre Company (Emilia Teglia, Tina Rath, Andrew Goddard and Leila Nashif), Close Up is a multi-media production which explores the changing face of censorship and what it means in Western society today. It tells the story of Clive Boon, a 1960s Polari speaking comedian and the overnight success of Grace, a lady of advancing years who becomes involved in a fly on the wall documentary about sex and relationships in the 21st century.
The character of Grace dreams of standing out and gaining notoriety; she has an outstanding personality but this results in many of her relationships breaking down. The actor, Tina Rath, plays this well. She gives Grace a dual personality of vigour and sensitivity, which is endearing for the audience to watch and I would be interested to see where they take this character.
The story of Clive Boon, played by Andrew Goddard, felt slightly contrived and not quite fully developed which is somewhat to be expected in this work in progress setting. Boon appears to be a comedian who has a comedy act on the television. This story is however, unclear; the idea of Polari slang and the connection that it has with censorship is an interesting concept as the basis for a performance, but would need to be fleshed out a bit in order for the audience to understand the connection between Boon and the narrative as a whole.
The stage was minimal but used both film and photography to show some, perhaps rather invasive, images of Grace together with black and white footage of Clive Boon performing his comedy routine. Both these elements rendered themselves nicely to the performance. Zanep Dagli, Close Up’s visual designer and filmmaker, added more texture to the performance by adopting a multimedia approach; it created another layer of theatricality to the performance. It also constantly confronted the audience with questions about the idea of censorship and what we are shown on television and through social media. The use of film and photography is a dynamic way of foregrounding the issues being addressed in Close Up and once developed and polished further could really lift the performance.
At its core, Close Up brings interesting questions to the forefront; why is it that what was previous ‘forbidden’ in the media is now being glorified and glamourised? Does censorship protect us, or limit our freedom of speech and creativity? These ideas are provocative but the story line that carries them is not yet coherent enough and lacks clarity. However, the audience did get a flavour of the staging, characters and fundamental idea of the piece, that with some further development has the potential to become a thought-provoking and complex piece of theatre.
Reviewed by Holly Barnard
was at The Pleasance Theatre
as part of Litmus Fest 2017