devised by Jack McNamara.

Future Ruins in co-production with the Nuffield Theatre Southampton Tour to 9 June 2011.
Runs: 1hr No interval.
Review: Mark Courtice 5 May at Nuffield Theatre Southampton.

Dinner Party from Hell.
A dinner party is winding down; the guests are twenty-something movers and shakers in media and education. As they try to leave, somehow they cannot get out of the door. This new performance starts from the same place as Luis Bunuel’s 1962 film of the same name, but is both more and less than a theatrical adaptation.

Future Ruins’ method of working involves improvisation so it’s likely that tomorrow’s version of what happens next will be different. I guess that there will still be the set-piece sequences that include meanness, betrayal and random menace, and that the skilful use of the film’s structure (and today’s paper) will be the same. The actors will still be doing the same effective job, too.

Deviser and director Jack McNamara has made a piece that fits together well; the characters journey through fear and challenge while at the same time exploring their self loathing and intermittently loathing each other.

McNamara has gone for super-naturalism, rather than the surreal formality of the original. This tends to make it feel like an acting exercise, the inability to leave being more because that’s the rule rather than there’s a discernible reason, either physical or psychological for it. The characters do and say things that make sense, but they exist in a vacuum. For all these reasons it’s hard to care about any of them.

This is not the fault of the performances, however. Despite the lack of clues as to why they are like they are, actors like Noeleen Comiskey and Tom McHugh create effective moments of fear and love. One of the characters explains she is a person who "…does bad things to nice people", a line delivered (like many in this piece) in such a way to make it clear she’s only acting.

The adaptation’s sophisticated structure, the acting style, and the tight direction work against the unpredictability of the improvisation. So, despite being consistently watchable, looking good in the small studio space, and with a score that underpins the menace nicely, the play’s neither as surprising as its source material, nor as groundbreaking.

Cast: Anna Bolton, Noeleen Comiskey, Gerry Howell, Tom McHugh, James Rigby,

Director: Jack McNamara.
Designer Teppei Nogaki.
Composer Giuseppe Lomeo .

2011-05-08 11:41:52

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