Come to One
Reviewed – 15th November 2019
“tries to be about everything, and leaves you feeling nothing”
‘What the f*ck is this show about?’ exclaims one character to another during one of the many improvised scenes of Come to One. Watching the two performers splutter through the scene, unable to agree on a direction or sense of rhythm, it certainly felt like an apt question to ask.
Come to One is an entirely improvised show from Three Worlds about, well…anything, really. The performers ask the audience what’s been playing on their hearts and minds as of late, and take those as themes to improvise around. In this performance, those themes were: missing friends, corrupt politicians, exhaustion, interstellar sources of energy, and gourmet cooking. If you’re wondering how those concepts could possibly intersect, don’t worry – they don’t bother trying; instead, we are then presented with around 20-25 different, largely unconnected scenes that loosely tie into those themes, but seemingly only ever one at a time. In some instances the story in one scene is continued at a later point, but these seemed to cause more problems for the performers than the standalone scenes did.
The company, comprised of Andy St John, Carol Tagg, Michal Nowak, Izzy Glin, Tom Barnes and Zoot Lynam, seem to really struggle with the lack of structure they’ve imposed on themselves. Many other improv-focused shows will ask for plot details such as settings, characters, and motivations, and Come to One makes it clear why that is. With only vague concepts such as gourmet cooking to go off, it felt like the actors were fighting to find a sense of direction or momentum to their scenes, initially locking horns with their pre-conceived notions of where they wanted to take the conversation, then floundering to move it along as neither listens to the instincts of the other. It more often than not felt like the audience had sat in on an improv workshop that was for the benefit of the performers, rather than watching skilled improvisers show off their craft for entertainment.
The lack of command the actors had over their own show resulted in it being a tonal disaster. One plot thread about an astronaut overstepping boundaries with the humanoid AI accompanying him felt like it was supposed to be hard-hitting and thought-provoking, but this was severely undermined when another performer chose to swoop by every so often pretending to be a passing star. There was a definite uneasiness in the audience as to whether to laugh or not, and whether the laughter was with or at the actors.
It’s difficult not to feel guilty writing such a negative review because it’s clear that the performers were giving it their all, but they simply weren’t developed enough in their craft to take on the freeform nature of the show they’ve conceived. Come to One tries to be about everything, and leaves you feeling nothing.
Reviewed by Ethan Doyle
Photography courtesy Three Worlds
Come to One
Etcetera Theatre until 15th December
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: