Tag Archives: William Nash

Fiji

★★★★★

Omnibus Theatre

Fiji

Fiji

Omnibus Theatre

Reviewed – 20th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time”

 

Preparing to slaughter and eat a person for mutual pleasure and fulfilment is a fundamentally awkward affair, when you think about it. And Edward Stone, Pedro Leandro and Evan Lordan have really thought about it. Fiji, written by the trio and directed by Lordan, is inspired loosely by the story of Armin Meiwes who, in 2001, famously ate a willing volunteer in Germany – Fiji is not a retelling but is more of an admiring sequel to Armin’s story. Nick (Stone) and Sam (Leandro) meet online to consume and be consumed in Croydon (of all places) – but the story becomes a sort of charming rom-com with cannibalistic horror stuffed into its deep crevices.

Sam has travelled to Nick’s flat so that Nick can eat his entire body over two weeks – there’s no secret or mystery about their intentions which adds a pregnant, awful and comic irony to every scene. Little occurs as the two go through a crescendoing weekend together, knowing that it will only culminate cannibally. Intertwined with these two days of getting-to-know-you talk, is Sam and Nick’s final conversation which is split up and scattered through earlier scenes. In this last conversation, they each answer a series of questions designed to foster and build intimacy through vulnerability – with the answers as poignant interludes in a show which otherwise has the energy of How I Met Your Other cut with America’s Most Wanted.

Stone, Leandro and Lordan thread the needle expertly with their dialogue and the characters it conjures. The joking, banter and affection of cannibal and his future meal have great poise and keep the relationship grounded and relatable. It’s not horrific, but equally, it’s not especially sentimental. Standing as a testament to the cleverness of the writers was one strange moment – when Sam fled just before the butcher’s knife, instead of celebrating, one audience member cooed with disappointment and heartbreak that the characters had fallen out!

The set is simple with plain white chairs and a table making up the canvas. A little prop comedy wasn’t below the threesome with a box full of meat cleavers and paring knives being used to tease out a few extra laughs. The lighting choices help to separate out the jokes and dating of Sam and Nick’s ‘normal’ conversation from their intimate question answering. Humble choices in the set and lighting design help to keep the characters in focus and give the show a deserved grown-up feel.

This cheeky little play asks you to laugh at the point where the horrific meets the banal. When you ask a man-eater if he’s vegetarian or refer to someone as the ‘Obama of Cannibals’ it’s clear that we’re already in a very strange and a very original place. The characters are loveable and fun – Edward Stone’s performance is the foundation, but Pedro Leandro’s performance slowly builds as it becomes both more lovable and more encrypted. Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time.

 

Reviewed by William Nash

Photography by Jonathan Oldfield

 


Fiji

Omnibus Theatre until 24th November

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
To Have to Shoot Irishmen | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Selfish Giant | ★★★★ | December 2018
Hearing Things | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Orchestra | ★★★ | January 2019
Lipstick: A Fairy Tale Of Iran | ★★★ | February 2019
Tony’s Last Tape | ★★★★ | April 2019
Country Music | ★★★★ | May 2019
Othello: Remixed | ★★★★ | June 2019
Lone Star Diner | ★★★ | September 2019
Femme Fatale | ★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

To Drone in the Rain
★★

Tristan Bates Theatre

To Drone in the Rain

To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 11th June 2019

★★

 

“a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short”

 

To actually drone in the rain is to stand outside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. To perform To Drone in The Rain is to stand inside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. The play, written by Michael Ellis and directed by Lorenzo Peter Mason, is like a flat Black Mirror episode for the stage: a young man (Tom – Michael Benbaruk) with extreme social anxiety is being cared for by Drone Girl (Nell Hardy) and it only gets darker from there …

Well, not exactly. The production stands on some interesting themes which would certainly be likely to resonate with a typical London audience. Drone Girl isn’t just supporting Tom, she is infantilising him. Drone Girl agonises at length about the morality of this decision as Tom descends into total helplessness shouting ‘change my diaper’ by the end. Through their characters, the writer and director worry aloud about society’s over-reliance on technology and particularly on Artificial Intelligence. But that dependence is so outright and divorced from contemporary dependence on mobile phones, that it always feels far away rather than close in. Drone Girl is tempted by Drone Boy (Lino Facioli) to run away from this life of enabling human helplessness and transcend her human shackle. Drone Girl’s struggle to decide whether or not to leave seems to be the main story arc yet mostly expresses itself in drawn-out on-stage agonising and arguing rather than journey, change or development.

Where the script and direction leave a lot to be desired, the acting also fails to light up the circuit boards. The actors had precious little to work with in terms of tension – the stakes were invariably very low – but the performances were mostly flat and without connectivity or personality. Thigh slapping, door slamming and pained looks replaced most of the human connection. If this was deliberate, to symbolise the robots of the show, then the collateral damage was an audience’s desire to actually care about the characters.

Nicole Figini’s set really took centre stage. Looking like an Ikea showroom it set the piece in a world inhabited only by professional Hikikomoris. The white walls and plain furniture were reminiscent of the specific Black Mirror episode Five Million Merits and served the storyline well. The solid audio-visual work and good lighting design break up and structure the moody rants on stage.

Taken together, the show is a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short. The politics are blurted out by characters – climate change, social alienation, ‘the bees are dying’ – and the themes aren’t explored or developed. Instead, the characters perform a moody teenage hurley burley that doesn’t do justice to the high-quality production values and intimate venue.

 

Reviewed by William Nash

 


To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre until 15th June

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | November 2018
Me & My Left Ball | ★★★★ | January 2019
Nuns | ★★★ | January 2019
Classified | ★★★½ | March 2019
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019

 

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