Tag Archives: The Bunker

The Flies
★★★

The Bunker

The Flies

The Flies

The  Bunker

Reviewed – 13th June 2019

★★★

 

“with some fine-tuning and syncopation there is quite a stunning show buried in there somewhere”

 

Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, “The Flies” (Les Mouches), is a complicated and serious affair, perhaps overburdened with symbolism and allegory. At its core is the myth of Orestes and Electra, who murder their mother and her lover in order to seek revenge for the death of their father. Sartre took many sweeping liberties with the story, bending it to fit in with his philosophical leanings at the time – having spent nine months as a prisoner of war. Equating the ancient Greek city of Argos with occupied France, the themes of revenge are replaced by quite laborious and introspective questions about freedom.

Described as a thriller, the text is not necessarily thrilling in itself, but Exchange Theatre certainly know how to strip it bare and dress it up again in a multi-coloured cloak of ideas and invention. Set in a dystopian world without any real reference to time or place, the themes acquire a contemporary poignancy, where the Gods are video screens from which the black-clad, Klansman-like, ‘Avenging Furies’ steal the hard drives from their broken chassis. It is a scene unrecognisable by Orestes (Samy Elkhatib) who is returning home fifteen years after his father’s murder. Finding his people under the oppression of guilt and fear he seeks out his sister, Electra (Meena Rayann), and persuades her to help him exact his revenge and ultimately try to free his townspeople.

Underscored by a live, power-driven rock band the premise is exciting, but the raw promise of the opening moments soon wanders into a maze of confusion. Director David Furlong (who also plays the usurping tyrant Aegisthus) has swamped the action in a riot of ideas which battle with each other. This is no bad thing, and we must applaud the idea of theatre reflecting the disquieting uncertainty of our times; and this company does that with a real punch. “The Flies” is about fighting for liberty against misguided populist powers, but the energy expended in this production is just as misguided. Too much writhing and unneeded robotic movement cloud the intention and, while the music (and occasional raucous singing) embraces the rebellious punk ethic, it lacks the edge. It all comes across as a bit messy. Sartre’s script is replete with ‘what-ifs’ as it explores its philosophical paths: this show, too, is built on ‘what-ifs’, as a succession of ideas are played out in front of us as though being workshopped.

But there is no denying that this is a visual and aural treat, although the most affecting moments are when the actors are left alone on the stage with nothing but their dialogue. Overall, though, subtlety isn’t the object here. ‘The Flies’ is being performed alternately in French and English, so to a certain extent we are obviously liberated from the reliance on the language. This is no rock opera, but with some fine-tuning and syncopation there is quite a stunning show buried in there somewhere.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Camille Dufrénoy

 


The Flies

The Bunker until 6th July

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me
★★★★

The Bunker

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker

Press Night – 9th May 2019

★★★★

 

“funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards”

 

In true striptease style this lucidly written play observing the sex worker lifestyle must wait an age while the audience is warmed up. Stacey Clare reads extracts from her forthcoming book countering the stigma and stereotypes of stripping, setting a feminist compass and authentic tone for the evening, before Electric Girl performs an erotic dance to establish the more familiar face and form of the subject. With thunder seemingly stolen, Joana Nastari then takes the stage to narrate the typical evening at a dance club for One, a stripper, as she navigates the hapless regulars and predictable first-timers. Behind her, The Other, played by Charlotte Bickley operates the decks, playing music and occasionally chiming in as DJ Craig as well as voicing One’s phone, which slowly dies as her worried mother tries to make contact.

The tale is funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards of drugs and drink, the insecure employment and short-term lifestyle. We share the camaraderie of her co-workers as they respect one another’s ‘hustle’, but also the building concern represented by the mother’s missed calls. As a writer, Joana Nastari is perceptive and entertaining. As an actor, she establishes a rapport with her audience while being able to withdraw into scenes where more depth is needed.

Director Bethany Pitts, together with movement director Yami Lofvenberg, uses podia, pools of light, (lighting design, Martha Godfrey) fake fur and tinsel (designer, Naomi Kuyck-Cohen) to create the necessary stages, corners, cupboards and dressing rooms, enhanced by Charlotte Bickley’s rich sound design.

Producer Ellen Spence steers her female production team determinedly away from any danger of being too serious, while ensuring that the stereotype created by those who demean sex workers is thoroughly busted. In place of analysis, the team prefers to endorse the well-run strip club as a safe way for fun-loving adults to exploit each other’s needs.

The show might be more self-confident without the preamble (different performers will open each performance) but if you know how to extract whoops and cheers from an audience the temptation to is probably irresistible. However, in doing so, some of the idea is lost. It’s the intersection between the emotional support sex-workers provide for each other with the moral and campaigning support provided by modern feminism that makes this a fresh and fascinating production, one that needs no dressing up.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Maurizio Martorana

 


Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker until 19th May

The line up of special guests at each performance will be announced each day on FYPM’s social media

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com