The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 5th February 2019
“an evening of absurdity, that combines sound, light, humour and the grotesque, but despite its many ingredients, fails to create a cohesive whole”
The stage is full. Fragments of music stands are refashioned into unidentifiable creations, a small house – black outside, pink inside – towards the centre back, a pink curtain that could almost be crushed silk, things suspended from the ceiling – all created with a child-like feel, a youthful imperfection. Through the curtain something begins to wave at us. A strange, furry creature, eyes flashing, hanging from a mustard coloured rail.
A man enters dressed in red, shuffles on his knees to a mass of mix boards that spill out wires in every direction across the stage. Gradually he builds a soundscape, mixing electronic effects with live sound: percussion, a recorder and so on. The second man enters in sandals made of sponges, also wearing red, stepping carefully because his back is to the audience, shoulder blades visible through a rectangle of absence. So begins an evening of absurdity, that combines sound, light, humour and the grotesque, but despite its many ingredients, fails to create a cohesive whole.
‘Cuteness Forensics’ sets out to “explore the tender insides of strange objects” and to hear them “sing”. It is certainly a very technically complex and accomplished piece, and the finale is particularly effective, as a darker side is found to this exploration. The different elements of the set come together in the creatures, different layers of exposure as their ‘cuteness’ is stripped away from them. Fur is replaced by the rawness of bald flesh, created by the same pink curtains we began this journey through. It is a descension into the grotesque that works really well.
The preceding action is, however, far less convincing. It feels like we ought to be able to circle, to enter and exit it, a living, breathing art exhibit. But it does not demand the constant attention a theatre format forces. The middle lacks direction, a wandering space that requires shaping to keep its audience with it. There is an element of humour too, to the strangeness that we are watching, but it is insufficiently explored. Perhaps both the grotesqueness and the humour could be pushed further, a potentially stark and impactful contrast. Equally the moments that play with narrativisation are really exciting. Further investigation into the possibility of narrative within this piece could create another layer. Tim Spooner and Tom Richards are our two performers and they share a lovely softness between themselves, a playful, almost clown like intimacy, and again their interaction could be more rigorously explored. Ultimately they need to decide what it is they are creating, and what effect they would like the piece to have on their audience.
This is currently a mess of exploration that needs to find its way through to what is already promising to be a fabulously grotesque finish.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
The Yard Theatre until 9th February as part of Now 19 Festival
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: