Anyone's Guess How We Got Here

Barrel Organ’s new show Anyone’s Guess How We Got Here feels like a natural development of the company’s practice and philosophy whilst also managing to delve into a very different tone and genre. Anyone’s Guess, like their previous works, Nothing and Some People Talk About Violence, mixes the personal and political with a self-consciously theatrical style that foregrounds theatre’s liveness. Similarly it approaches plot in an unconventional way, more elliptical and reminiscent of Alistair McDowall's Pomona than the fragmented Some People Talk and Nothing, resulting in a form that complements the show’s homage to the mystery, haunted house and road trip genres.

A seriously clever piece of theatre, intelligently opting to tackle debt and grief in a more roundabout and indirect way rather than as a piece of on-the-nose political theatre.

It starts off as a road trip, with two young women (Bryony Davies and Rosie Gray) playing a game of ‘Fuck, Marry, Kill’. The fact that they are genuinely playing the game and reacting adds brilliant element of spontaneity to their performances whilst also providing some much-needed lightness to some dark and heavy themes of debt and grief. It’s a technique that’s used more subtly and sparingly than in their previous work, which makes sense thematically and dramaturgically but there was a part of me that wanted to see more of these two women’s friendship as Davies and Gray are such watchable performers.

It then veers off into more Twilight Zone-esque territory as Davies visits her childhood home from which she was evicted when her family couldn’t keep up with mortgage repayments and the piece turns into a political, haunted house story. Davies is encountered by ghosts from her past and monsters under the floorboards as she tries to exhume a terrible secret from the past. Two strips of LED lights and a suitably creepy sound design transport us into the house, a liminal stage where past and present, reality and fiction all start to look very similar.

Anyone’s Guess is a seriously clever piece of theatre, intelligently opting to tackle debt and grief in a more roundabout and indirect way rather than as a piece of on-the-nose political theatre. At times it feels like the company is still finding its voice with the piece, but this is perhaps to be expected as it’s been created by a different writer (Jack Perkins) and directors (Joe Boylan and Dan Hutton), and if anything, this has made me more excited to see where the company will end up next.

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

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★★★
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Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Daughter

★★★
Pleasance Dome

Lights Over Tesco Car Park

★★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Chase Scenes

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

She's standing in what used to be her bedroom. She's come back to reclaim what she buried. The car waits outside. Debt, eviction, childhood and the thing under the floorboards. What remains, long after you've paid it off. From multi award-winning company Barrel Organ, Anyone's Guess How We Got Here is a road trip. A haunted house. A bedtime story. A photo album. An 80s fantasy film. A demolition project. A riot. Commissioned by and developed at Camden People's Theatre, with support from Manchester Royal Exchange. 'This young company are the future' (Lyn Gardner).