No Particular Order

Set in an unspecified time and without a location, No Particular Order resonates across the ages, through civilisations and empires, dictatorships and democracies and more, vividly visiting communities, organisations and generations of individuals who have lived, survived, suffered and died under countless regimes.

a well-crafted blend of the timeless and the immediate.

The structure of Tan’s play and the instructions he gives about it are fascinating in themselves. The piece is in three parts. Part One has nine scenes and is separated by thirty years from Part Two, which has seven scenes. Part Three is very short with only two scenes of which the first occurs three hundred years after the end of Part Two while the second is ‘a space beyond time, or at least history’. These latter futuristic and speculative scenes seem to lack the immediacy of earlier scenes almost causing the play to fade away rather than reaching a climax or providing a dénouement as engaging as what has come before.

Thus, the play has many stories that revolve around a theme and circumstances; eighteen vignettes that are portrayals of life in a newly-emerging despotic regime. Society, we are informed, is ‘listless, submissive, and scared’ and Tan asserts that ‘every scene starts afresh’ in the manner of snapshots that capture moments in the lives of people in a range of settings, what he calls a ‘flicker-book of portraits’. He also requires that the play should have ‘at least four actors - two young, two older, a mix of races and genders - play all the roles’. The characters are not named but identified by their positions or jobs. Hence in the opening scene we have Exterminator 1 (Jules Chan) and Exterminator 2 (Daniel York Loh) who are later joined by Bureaucrat (Pía Laborde-Noguez) in a discussion of removing birds from the trees that line the procession route of the new dictator. This sets the tone of conflicting interests, the power of authority figures and people holding alternative perspectives and having different priorities that will become recurring motifs.

It’s potentially a heavy mix but there are several scenes, which, though serious, are more light-hearted. The fashion house encounter provides Pandora Colin, as the Couturier, some delightful moments of dry humour in dealing with design revolutionaries who dare to suggest departing from everything being made in black. Dictators come in many guises. This scene goes particularly well with designer Ingrid Hu’s set with black and white lengths of material that sweep over the heads of the audience from the rear of the auditorium to the stage that are so Coco Chanel. In other scenes the single black rectangular pillar is sufficiently simple to take on various symbolic meanings and throughout, the gauze backdrop allows for a rear-projection to announce each scene title.

Director Joshua Roche has gone for something of a low-key, understated approach to the text which the ensemble clearly warms to, particularly in the ponderous, reflective and calmly tragic scenes. The cast balance each other well and create effective contrasts in the many roles they assume. The range of issues covered means that every scene is likely to resonate with someone and especially with those who have had direct experience in some of the situations depicted, even if to a lesser degree. As such it's a well-crafted blend of the timeless and the immediate.

There is undoubtedly something for everyone in No Particular Order even if it takes a while to appreciate the structure of the thematically related yet independent tales. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

Southwark Playhouse

The Lesson

★★★★★
Royal Court Liverpool

Offered Up

★★★
Above the Stag Theatre

The Convert

★★★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Cancelling Socrates

★★★
Theatre503

No Particular Order

★★★
Wilton's Music Hall

Starcrossed

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Tan’s innovatively written drama, told from an unnamed place and spanning 320 years, delivers snapshots of both a recognisable world and visions of the future. Through the lives of ordinary people - ornithologists, bureaucrats, soldiers, and tour guides - this prescient portrait of global politics and the rise of authoritarianism charts the fall, rise and continuation of a nation, always asking the same question, "Is it empathy, or power, that endures?"

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets