"I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!" Although never spoken in Revelation 1:18 these words from the last book in the bible capture the aspirational ideology that runs through this play, which is anything but dead.
A fast-paced, tragically humorous rollercoaster.
The piece had a previous incarnation as MenSWEAR Collection: Three, Two, F*ck when it was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014 by a group of students attending the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA). Since then writer/director Jack West, along with one of the original cast, Rob Hadden, has formed LAGO Theatre which currently has its own season of three plays by him at the Tristan Bates Theatre.
Three friends in a band have been waiting five years for their big break. Now they have it. Signed up to a top label, they have a hit single, an album on its way and an international tour lined up. Could they possibly hope for anything more? After a night of partying in their shabby old flat they eventually wake up to face their future. For two of them it’s the road to bursting bank accounts lined with screaming fans and the provision of endless sex, but for one it is a pathway to the frustration of perhaps becoming just one more famous band among many. What he wants is an eternal legacy and he has a plan to achieve it.
Rob (Rob Hadden) sits alone in an armchair intently focused on the magazine article that proclaims their success. The alarm, set by Quigley (Oliver Buckner), rings repeatedly on his phone while he continues to sleep on the sofa. Rob is oblivious to it, but a horribly hungover Craig (Joshua Glenister), crashed out on the floor, is woken by the sound and is not happy. After an early morning argument Rob starts to reveal his plan. What follows are intense attempts at rational debate in an absurdist situation. Hadden speaks with conviction, manipulates his mates, finally converts one and eventually brings the second on board. West’s tightly constructed, drip-feed script, provides all that is necessary to win the day. Glenister is amusingly overcome with incredulity as he tirelessly battles against one then two people who fail to see just how ridiculous the suggested course of action really is. Joining him at first, Buckner tries to keep the peace and reconcile the sensitivities of both sides, before finally succumbing to the idea himself. The lads give powerfully impassioned performances and a deep feeling of having lived, worked and played together long enough to create a bond that cannot be broken no matter what the cost. It’s a fast-paced, tragically humorous rollercoaster.
On a more serious note Revelation 1:18 is a fine exposé of the art of manipulation. It perhaps resonates with even more truth now than it did four years ago. Political movements and debates in recent years have demonstrated on an international level how individuals can rise up, extol arguments and gain followers to support their ambitions and platforms in a manner that leaves others aghast. It highlights the potential destructiveness of misguided goals, the futile pursuit of fame and how easily vulnerability can be worked upon.
The play might not be ‘alive for ever and ever’ but it’s had a good run so far and is a testament to West’s skill as a writer and what can be achieved when his words are handed over to three highly talented actors bristling with energy.