THE POSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE HOUSE
devised by Forced Entertainment with Vlatka Horvat.
Barbican (The Pit) Silk Street EC To 28 December 2014.
11am 20-23, 28 Dec.
2pm 20-23, 28 Dec.
5pm 20-22, 27, 28 Dec.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 0845 120 7511.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 December.
A story and its subversion replace Christmas stage glitz at the Pit.
The Barbican Pit might seem on auto-destruct come December. Last year they invited theatre company Told By An Idiot to create a piece for children, a riskily offbeat choice. But having Forced Entertainment make one up this year is outright perverse. Adults can love or hate Tim Etchells’ long-established, Sheffield-based company, but no-one has ever suggested their work, in its theatrically outlandish or cerebral ways, will grab younger minds and imaginations.
And yet, the Barbican’s motto is ‘Do Something Different’. And different this is. Not only in eschewing all the old familiar titles, but also the elements supposed to make theatre fun. Humour here is dry, wry and spare, action near non-existent. One person stands at a long table and holds-up pieces of cut-up cardboard. On these are projected images which tell the story like an alternative narrator. As he (the performers differ; in this case Richard Lowdon, also the company’s designer) calmly speaks, with just hints of potential excitement, another member, (in this case Cathy Naden) sits at a side table offering sound effects.
The relation between them is formal and polite, with several moments suggesting impatience from Lowdon as he tries to make Naden feel included while giving the impression her disappearance wouldn’t cause him overmuch distress. Even his rejection of several offered sounds has a calm Socratic surface as he questions their aptness.
FE’s fons et origo, it’s raison d’être, Etchells has an apt partner in building this House with Croatian-born artist Vlatka Horvat, whose work disrupts, and relocates objects. Her archetypal little girl who has lost her spider provides the start to a story that goes through a grand, labyrinthine house. The quest is on, narrative-wise, and continues remorselessly, Forced Entertainment-style, with a contrast of calm actuality and implied intensity recalling an earlier experimental piece, Alain Resnais’s 1961 film Last Year in Marienbad, with its similar sense that images and the ‘voiceover’ storytelling occupy different worlds.
It’s pointed out that, for all its elaborate detail and animal characters, the story has a hole in it. So even the seemingly certain conclusion comes with its own ambiguity.
Cast: (two from) Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor.
Director: Tim Etchells.
Designer: Richard Lowdon.
Lighting: Nigel Edwards.
Projections: Vlatka Horvat, Tim Etchells.