xx

Connections missed and made are set in motion in this playful, algorithmically-generated piece exploring love and chance from young company Poltergeist Theatre. xx, pronounced ‘kiss kiss’ (as I find out at the box office), is comprised of ‘ten duets and five monologues determined by an algorithm every night’.

their surrealness lends something to the production’s incidental, dream-like quality

Who plays who, and in which order, is randomly selected each evening and, though the sequence of the monologues is fixed in order to provide a central structure, the actors performing them vary,as does the casting of the scenes around them. There are ‘trillions’ of possible combinations, so thankfully there’s a whiteboard covered with them to guide the performers.

Sweetly funny and sometimes poignant, this is a production which tiptoes towards the twee but manages to dodge its worse excesses. This is thanks to the thoughtful and joyfully bizarre script developed by the cast themselves, along with writer-director Jack Bradfield.

At the heart of the piece is a single occurrence, told from varying perspectives in the monologues, but it’s the eclectic and well-observed two-handers which really make the show. One such instance is when an astronaut headed for the moon frets to a lover left behind: “I’m just worried I’m gonna get there and it’s gonna be shit.”

The monologues are engaging, but seem tenuous as the central thread of the piece; their characters feel nebulous and some have a zaniness which threatens their plausibility. It’s as if in writing them to be performed by any cast member they have been liberated from a recognisable reality, though their surrealness certainly lends something to the production’s overall incidental, dream-like quality.

Devised physical elements are used sparingly, yet effectively. There’s an obligatory juddering tube carriage scene but it’s done so well that they get away with it and the transitions are dynamic but well-judged. Colourful bungee cords add structure to the scenes and echo the crossing ‘x’ of the title, pairing and parting the performers in a visual metaphor for the threads which connect us by chance.

A more grounded sense of character and a stronger narrative would lend weight to what is otherwise a tender and funny exploration of meaning in lives determined by chance. That aside, xx is a uniquely charming show, intelligently staged and with an intriguing premise.

Reviews by Lanikai KT

Assembly George Square Gardens

Wrecked

★★★
Assembly George Square Theatre

Andrew Maxwell: Slight Return

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Birthday Girls: Sh!t Hot Party Legends

★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

Tagged

★★★

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘You make me feel like numbers.’ Two friends talk politics over the carcass of a dead dog. A couple find love in the park while their children fight in the sandpit. Pagans gather at dusk in the park for a strange ritual... An exploration into the mathematics of character creation: the actors' parts and the scenes are randomised by an algorithm at the start of every performance. There are over 36 trillion variations: the kiss kiss calculus. You'll never see the same play twice. A new piece of experimental theatre by Jack Bradfield.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets