Other Peoples Teeth is a unique, visceral and violent vignette, exploring the emotional depths of brutality. The performance opens with a Tarantino-esque scene, featuring two contract killers in a stand-off where only one person can survive. We are then engulfed into a duality of worlds, as two parallel yet interlinked stories run together - one chronologically, and the other backwards.
A fast paced and unique perspective on violence.
As the story unfolds, we flip back and forth through the life of Joss, played phenomenally by Becky Downing. As she meets the trepidatious Simon (played by writer Dan Sareen) in a DVD rental shop, she introduces this soft scientist into her violent world. She does this literally and figuratively, by the recommendation of a violent film and a discussion on the nature of cruelty. The story then flips backwards, chronologies changing via lighting effects and a back screen which displays the date. In this way, we meet the cold and toxically intrepid Sol played convincingly by Tom Claxton. Adorned in a selection of bermuda style shirts, he does not cut a foreboding shape - though with his modus operandi of emotionally torturing his victims before he kills them, and his oft frenetically manic persona, he is a credible force to be reckoned with.
And so begin the juxtaposing lives for Joss, as she settles into a new and tender relationship with Simon, whilst continuing her ongoing career as a contract killer. Simon muses about plurality and searches for deeper meaning, whilst Sol is on a unilateral path to perpetuate his wake of destruction until it one day takes him out. This wonderfully unique piece of theatre is heralded as a 'romantic crime thriller', and it delivers that and more. Packed full of conundrums, frustrations and questions, the performance takes us on a quest and the answer is in the mind of the viewer.
Despite society’s gendered behaviour norms and a character development which portrays Joss in a more passive role, ultimately Joss is the uncontrolled killer in both of the murder scenes. She lacks restraint and self awareness as to what her motivations are in pursuing this career. Likewise with Sol, we never truly discover how he entered this line of work and why he enjoys it so much. Is he a sociopath? The question is articulated throughout the performance, and hangs unanswered. The script dissects the nature of what is acceptable violence in our world, and offers a three dimensional perspective of differing situations and scenarios.
The acting in this performance was its major strength. However, I had unanswered questions about the intricacies of what had brought the characters to where we meet them. And although there was character development - in particular of Simon and Joss - I would have like this to have been explored more. A lack of answers to these questions is perhaps a deliberate omission, though including this could also enrich the characters and allow the audience to feel a further emotional connection to them. In addition, although the skipping of time chronologies is clever and adds something to the tempo and pace of the performance, as well as thematic concepts of chaos theory and consequences, there were times when this felt like it detracted from the smoothness of the story line.
Sareen has succeeded in delivering relatable characters, despite their quirks, flaws and unusual career choices. This hour went by tremendously quickly, and is an effective, fast-paced and unique perspective on violence and the impact of the choices we make.