We are promised an “epic tale of love, loyalty and logistics” and, with varying degrees of each, that is what we get. Telling the story of a girl in East Berlin whose father is in West Berlin, theatre company Cosmic Biscuit uses puppets, silly dancing, fake beards and kazoo solos effectively over the course of the short show.
However, it is the ending that is most in need of development: it is far too abrupt. The play moves from a silly, laugh-filled fare to a vaguely tragic close within the space of about thirty seconds.
The group excels the most through their ensemble rapport. Their physicality, whether it be ridiculous dancing or more conventional physical theatre, is strong. Use of puppeting and elaborate facial expressions to convey the central character are also well conceived and executed. The ensemble show excellent audience interaction, picking out audience members to take part in the narrative itself. This audience interaction allows for some lovely individual moments within the overall narrative of the play, particularly at one moment involving a German barmaid, ridiculous faces and a wig made of out j-cloths.
Whilst the play is enjoyable, it is underdeveloped and allows for criticism to creep in. Some of the minor storylines – incorporating a Russian ballet dancer and an award-winning musician – feel as though they have simply been tacked on and could have been developed further. Some of the storylines don’t make sense within the general tone that the show is going for: for example the appearance of a vaguely offensive German accent. However, it is the ending that is most in need of development: it is far too abrupt. The play moves from a silly, laugh-filled fare to a vaguely tragic close within the space of about thirty seconds; it feels as if the company just wasn’t quite sure how best to end the play.
In spite of the ending, Simply the West is a good show that offers some lovely moments. The ensemble work well alongside one another, with a lovely rapport between them throughout. With more time spent developing the play, it could become a standout show.