A Woodlouse Trapped Under a Glass is almost so bad that it’s good, except it’s not quite there. Instead, it’s just a one-man show that is mind-numbingly bad: smacked in the face by a man made of concrete bad.
The performance is so completely devoid of structure, direction or any sense of humour that it’s difficult to argue that it qualifies as a show at all. Maskell either bumbles around stage trying to do something with a stupidly enormous and pointless array of props, or reads - without more than the odd glance at the audience - from a writing pad. If he had more stage presence, this could almost be developed into some kind of farcical joke but he really does just say ‘er’ too much to be able to hold anybody’s attention.
I’m just not really sure what happened. Maskell made eye contact with his spectators briefly when he read out some chat up lines that he’d made up – they fell fairly flat – sometimes he made a recurring joke for very long periods of time by trying to climb into a moth-eaten sleeping bag on stage and failing. Sometimes he just faced the wall while the audience watched scenes from the Olympics playing on his laptop which was sat on a chair on stage, once he tried to play ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on the recorder. I think the joke was that he couldn’t really do it, but it didn’t make anyone laugh.
Though mercifully short, this show is overwhelmingly tedious. The random and the absurd can often be a source of hilarity but A Woodlouse Trapped Under a Glass is just a mumbled mash of a performance. There’s a distinct lack of professionalism, evidence of rehearsal or indeed any effort to engage the audience and the result is uncomfortably boring. You will leave feeling dazed and oddly confused because you feel mildly guilty about the fact that there is just not one good thing about this show that you can dredge up to justify the time you spent sitting through it.