Call it a Day
The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 30th January 2019
“The concept is certainly intriguing and it provides the platform for unique storytelling”
Greg Wohead’s new play, debuting at The Yard, explores a real life, and reimagined, meeting between Wohead, his then girlfriend, and an Amish couple. Whilst it’s a clever concept, with exciting ideas and some very amusing moments, it lacks the drama to carry us through to the end.
From the outset, this production promises to be something different. Wohead speaks in Pennsylvanian Dutch into a microphone, the English translation projected behind him. He monologues for a while, setting up the scene we are about to watch. We then proceed to watch this scene on loop, though each scene differs through their partly improvised nature, managing to discuss topics – from apple butter to killing pigs – through continually altering perspectives. What makes each scene initially interesting is not only the improvised elements, but also the fact the actors take it in turn to play each of the four roles, rotating round the large kitchen table that is the centre piece of the stage.
The performances by Greg Wohead, Tim Bromage, Mireya Lucio and Amelia Stubberfield were strong – they all felt at ease on stage and bought charm and a nice level of comedy to their performances. As the play progressives, the four performers are given the opportunity to push out of their natural performances into moments of absurdity, like sneezing coins or suddenly growing long, plastic arms. This layered the scenes, giving them variation whilst at the same time taking them far away from their initial realist nature. The play really found its feet in the moments when the performers sparked off one another.
However, there were elements that slowed the piece down, giving it a distinct lull in action. These tended to occur during the monologues, which perhaps were left to unravel for too long and with too little payoff. For example, whilst the opening monologue was impressive in its exciting use of theatre technology, it became repetitive, resulting in it being frustrating to listen to. The repetitive nature of the play in general occasionally provided comedy but also somewhat held it back; not every loop of the scene was executed with enough variation, and there’s only so much we are willing to care about apple butter.
The concept is certainly intriguing and it provides the platform for unique storytelling; being based off Wohead’s real life meeting with an Amish couple, the play is offered a sense of genuine authenticity. The themes it approaches, such as our connection with one another, particularly in a climate in which we are encouraged to disconnect from ‘the other’, are dealt with solidly and clearly. It’s the plays nature that ultimately lets it down a little. Improvised moments have the potential to bring fresh energy to the piece, and I’ve no doubt they contribute to the actors’ natural performances, but certain points felt like they lacked enough drama to make me care. Contextually, Call it a Day locates itself in the perfect time, and I think with some more fine-tuning, it has significant potential.
Reviewed by Tobias Graham
Photography by Maurizio Martorana
Call it a Day
The Yard Theatre until 2nd February as part of Now 19 Festival
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: