And Other Observations

“How do I describe this place?” is the question at the heart of ‘And Other Observations’. At the start of the piece, the cast hesitantly approach the microphone one by one, struggle to articulate themselves, and back away apologetically. They eventually conclude that it is “sort of a mash”, made up of odds and ends. This definition also applies to the production as a whole, which pieces together fragments of characters, scenes, and different art forms. Inspired by the techniques of innovative Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage, the company draw on various dramatic techniques to evoke places and situations, and make interesting use of multimedia– from the television sets playing in the background, to the robotic narrative of a Sat Nav device. This scattered approach reflects their themes: the strange intimacies and missed connections we experience every day with strangers on the street, and the habits and routines we create with and around our environment.The show is modernist and experimental. The cast hold up signs in place of props, disagree with one another about the specifics of the scene they are creating, and directly address the audience, challenging us about how much we notice our surroundings. There are lots of nice moments in the production – mime is well employed to evoke locations, and comedy is derived from a self-conscious acknowledgement of the audience’s presence, and the artificiality of the theatrical set-up. The projection of photographs onto moving boards is well executed and visually appealing. Vignettes from ordinary lives are conjured up by the dynamic and engaging cast. However, while it contains some good ideas, this disjointed production ultimately fails to hang together. Although the idea of fragmentation is central to the piece, the lack of structure and focus makes it occasionally confusing and ultimately unsatisfying.

The Blurb

Drawing on the techniques of Lepage, this performance explores collected fragments of poetry and art, from T S Eliot to Diane Arbus. Observations made by the storytellers are illustrated through inspiration from live art, movement and conversation.