THE THRILL OF IT ALL
Forced Entertainment Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road Hammersmith W6 9RL To 6 November.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
then tour to 3 December 2010.
Runs 2hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 November.
Still unique after all these years.
Extraordinary how potent cheap music is (especially when played very loud). And bad dancing. Plus tacky scenery. And costumes. Not to mention wigs of ineffable awfulness.
All of them are here, in the latest from 25-year old, hostage-to-fortune entitled Forced Entertainment. Some people wouldn’t miss a moment of their work. Others flee crying for mercy.
The endurance aspect some find comes from Forced Ent’s remorseless insistence on whatever situation or style director Tim Etchells has lighted on for each piece. This isn’t theatre of variety and linear progress. Remorselessly, relentlessly the performers, few or many, keep pounding-out verbal confession or physical action.
Here it’s nine people on a white dance-floor, accompanied by obviously fake palm (palm?) trees and Japanese Lounge Music. Actor-characters (no clear distinction’s made) dance, argue or speak through mikes that distort voices into cartoon girly high-pitch or gruff masculine growling.
After the opening sequence they gather around a sofa. It’s not just chill-out time but a family gathering. Yet if the gathering becomes a family, it’s not a happy one. Somehow the nine never settle on the sofa. One’s always somewhere else, or pushing for a place or being repulsed by another.
Throughout, all are compulsively involved, a terpsichorean equivalent to Sartre’s Huis Clos trio. Under the niceness and the declarations of love to audience-members, there lies something uglier – ugly as the matted black wigs make the men, or the wispy white ones the women. And there’s something subliminally sinister in the sham-glam uniformity of red (male jackets, female boots) and white (male shirts, female dresses, petering out as they reach the legs).
They cannot even roll out the carpets, with their male aggression and female sugary dreams. Even the “Wouldn’t it be nice…”s turn from vacuous to becoming oblique criticisms of others.
And always life melts into the next dance, a crutch of instant gratification in a life of hinted-at discontents. Dances dirtied by the pushes, face-offs and facial desperation. And. like or loath it, it’s certainly a high energy piece – not something to be tried at home, and certainly not on a full stomach.
Performers: Thomas Conway, Amit Hadari, Phiul Hayes, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor, John Rowley.
Director: Tim Etchells.
Designer: Richard Lowdon.
Lighting: Nigel Edwards.
Sound/Music: John Avery.
Choreographic adviser: Kate McIntosh.