In Tents and Purposes

First things first. In Tents and Purposes is, for my money, one of the most intelligently and unashamedly silly shows on at the Fringe right now. The concept is that graduates Libby and Sam encounter a Fortune Teller who prophesies that one will be rich, find the love of her life and pretty much everything will be amazing, while the other will lose everything and die a dramatic death. So far so formulaic but this is where the show jumps into a league of its own.

Think of it as a philosophical Play That Goes Wrong with prophecies, accidental mime and a little bit of time travel.

In between snapshots of the following ten years after the prophecy, actors Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf break the fourth wall and explain their creative processes and what they hoped to achieve from the show. Now the alarms bells starting ringing as soon as the words “Brechtian alienation device” was uttered but what emerges is a completely self-aware and self-mocking show. Writer Roxy asserts that she ‘used multirole-ing so that the audience doesn’t get emotionally involved with the characters’ but Alys is pretty sure that they just didn’t have enough money to pay for three actors – Brecht is spinning in his grave right now. Think of it as a philosophical Play That Goes Wrong with prophecies, accidental mime and a little bit of time travel. Did I forget to mention that there’s a Cher number in which they repeat the whole show with minor (but hilarious) differences?

It’s fair to say that in the wrong pair of hands the entire show and concept could fall flat on its face but Dunn and Metcalf have such natural chemistry and work as a perfect comic duo that it completely and utterly works. Dunn is the ideal straight man to Metcalf’s wacky ruminations and attempts to insert mime into what’s meant to be ‘a serious piece of theatre’. That’s before you acknowledge just how cleverly constructed the script actually is – they’ve anticipated any criticisms and thoroughly mocked themselves before anyone else could and it’s an absolute joy.

To paraphrase Cher ‘If you could turn back time, you’d go and see this immediately.’

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Five-star sell-out comedy from Vaults Festival London and Lyric Hammersmith exploring whether our lives are predetermined or shaped by our choices. A Viscera Theatre production written by Roxy Dunn (Channel 4 / Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award shortlisted), director Chris Head, performers Alys Metcalf (The Play That Goes Wrong, West End) and Roxy Dunn (Channel 4's Babylon, BBC Three’s Top Coppers). 'God is it funny... A very charming, sharp, smart play' (AYoungerTheatre.com). 'Serious talent to watch' (FemaleArts.com). 'What's the plural of genius? These two are that word' (Paterson Joseph – Johnson, Channel 4’s Peep Show).

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