Monday, October 02, 2006

"Self Contained" - September 2006

More than 24 hours after the event and I’m still not certain on my thoughts about this devised production by the NTS Young Company. The concept of a small group isolated after a national disaster isn’t anything new but the staging certainly takes the concept beyond the ordinary.

At a running time of around an hour things move along quickly as we are introduced to our five characters who remain nameless throughout but who I mentally tagged as “Kelvinside Lady”, “Little Girl”, “Astronomy Guy”, “The Boss” and "Mother". We learn a little of their backgrounds and the events that brought them together but much remains untold.

The performances had me really concerned for the first five minutes as they seemed overcooked, and I’m still not sure if they got better or if I just grew into the show and found the portrayals appropriate to the characters state of mind, but given the later inclusion of a song and dance number I think that the tone of the performances was actually a pretty good fit for the piece.

The reveal comes quickly and can be a surprise to few, and many like me probably anticipated it even before the start of the show. I just didn’t buy into the idea that the events of the show would bring about the final confession.

The company made the most of the claustrophobic nature of The Arches venue and there are nice elements of audience participation. It’s fairly rare for this kind of show to have any long lasting impact on me, but this one did, as it has introduced a new phrase to our household which will no doubt be in use for many years to come - “...and there was no F****** milk!”

I think my uncertainty about the success of the show is due to the fact that although it was definitely enjoyable, I’m just left feeling that it could have been so much more. It was just too traditional - for a young company being given support from the senior NTS and obviously with a lot of talent and directing experience I’d have liked to see some more thinking “outside the box”. There were hints of it - the leaflets handed out to the audience giving emergency instructions, the initial taped dialogue, the musical number but just not enough to really lift the show to a higher level. I’ll be interested to see if they can make their next production a little more different, because we will be back.

2 Heckles

Waldorf said...

Whilst agreeing with a lot of what Stalter said I've got to disagree with that the reveal came too abruptly. I disagreed with Statler when we came out, and I think he's still wrong (nothing new there).

It's difficult to fully contradict him without 'spoiling' the show, but I'll give it a go. Self Contained was part of The Arches Live Festival, and as far as I'm aware was devised completely for the festival. It sat in a one hour slot, so slow, gradual build ups were out of the question. The revelation was a direct result of seeing how things can just go a little too far - especially when people are on edge and under pressure.

The characters were sketched out well with enough information in the main to get where they came to this situation from. The one exception to this was 'Astronomy Guy' who delivered a good perfomance, but left me wanting to know just a little bit more about him.

I also think he's unfair by labelling it traditional. OK - we knew where the story was going, but the performances and structure were interesting. Doing something just because it's different doesn't make it right. Lord preserve us from pretention.

Oh and he got the quote wrong:
'And there was. No. Fucking. Milk.'

Statler said...

As we are off to see the Young Company's latest production "The Recovery Position" in a few weeks, I thought I'd revisit our thoughts on "Self Contained".

Now I'm not sure whether this says more about the quality of the writing or of our milkboy, but the "And there was. No. Fucking. Milk." quote is still used frequently in our household (although more often corrupted to "And there was. No. Fucking. Orange Juice"). Looking forward to seeing if the new show can be as memorable.