Briony Redman’s solo show revolves around a screenwriter who wants to test out her movie-in-the-making on a fresh audience. What the character desires most is to make money from her scripts, so she’s attempting to cover every Hollywood cliché in order to get paid.
Redman has a talent for playing someone fast-forwarded
From the outset there’s many things you want out of fringe theatre: a wobbly mic stand imaginatively used as a prop; free confectionary; and a novel idea. Playing a string of parts, Redman acts out an action movie pitch centred on the kidnapping of Donald Trump. Here her comedy is acute. With true screenwriter flair, she uses a popular shared frame of reference (the fact that Trump would be the most awful person to have to hold hostage) to humanise villains and sets a problem for the movie-come-show to solve.
One movie plot soon becomes three as Redman incorporates a romance story, the plot of a psychological thriller, and a random scene with a blow-up shark into the mix. Whilst Redman makes some valid digs at the homogeneity of Hollywood, a lot of the jokes rely upon assumed cynicism about relatively inoffensive celebrities. (I’ve never been especially annoyed by Emma Watson’s assertiveness or Katie Holme’s simplicity.) Proverbs which at the first feel like unique sentimentality – ‘Life’s a pub quiz. It’s going on around you so you might as well join in’ – are echoed to the point of inefficacy.
There are some flourishes of originality. The League of Actors Who’ve Played Sherlock Holmes and a ‘guess the belly button’ participation exercise, which might be highlighting gender equality in film, are memorable creations. The research professor who can recite the inner monologues of your favourite movie monsters is a sweet vignette, and Redman has a talent for playing someone fast-forwarded. But, with a lack of a coherent message, The Theory of Positivity’s silliness doesn’t amount to anything truly thought-provoking… Yes, favouring tested models of success limits room for originality, but what should we actually do about it?