All In

Here’s what happens in order: A parody of bourgeois conversation by actors in black morphsuits; a light show to the gaiety of the Ode To Joy; unembellished description of said piece; a demented, Sesame-Street-type lesson on cooking and friendship; a plastic-covered man holding his drink in a nightclub while an omnium-gatherum of object names gets projected behind; footage of North Korea’s Arirang Mass Games; a penumbra-umbra light show to wrap it all up.

All In’s success in opening and closing itself proves that Atresbandes have something going on.

“A darkly playful exploration of the millennial condition” the Catalan company Atresbandes claim in their description. Well, the only accurate part of the statement is that some condition is explored. Not millenial - All In is too vague for that - and not playful, unless rampant eclecticism and abrasiveness is playful. It’s not dark either: it’s more upsetting than dark.

The condition explored is alienation which is a pretty standard theme to contemplate especially in the soul-searching Summerhall. As bitty as it may seem, every part of All In is connected in its look at groups and what it feels like to be in and out of one. That should be great but the only element that entices is the play’s bookends. The middle, the sandwich meat of the show, is completely unpalatable. It doesn’t feel worth it to sit through the segment about friends and making meals; it’s the longest and most monochromatic experience of All In and it ruins it in its humourlessness. It made me want to scream “I get it!” and leave.

On any interpretation of the goings-on, nothing rouses, even in a Brexit-centred take. It’s possible, given that one character excludes himself for his foibles and from the mention that the Ode to Joy is the EU’s unofficial anthem, that the work is some expression of the loss suffering at the hands of our country’s majority.

This reading can’t revive an already leaden body. All In’s success in opening and closing itself proves that Atresbandes have something going on. They can do more without such obnoxious displays and I’m not being stuffy here. The show is, for its bulk, unedifying from all points of view.

Reviews by Oliver Simmonds

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The Blurb

All In is a wild ride through vastly different worlds where everyday situations take unexpected turns into the absurd and intimate. Dictatorships, nightclubs, national anthems, education and self-help manuals in an epic journey that makes you wonder how free we are from the tyranny of the crowd. Atresbandes bring striking visuals to their characteristic blend of physical theatre and meditative text in a darkly playful exploration of the millennial condition. A brand new show from the young Catalan company, previously seen at Summerhall in the 2013 festival with the ‘uproariously rude and discomfiting’ Solfatara (Donald Hutera, Times).

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