Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"My Bloody Valentine" - February 2007

When you go to an established production you have a rough idea of what to expect. There may be some updates as to costume, or language but you know the general story. With My Bloody Valentine we went in blind as it's a work devised and performed by the Citizens' Community Company. I'm glad to say we didn't leave disappointed.

It was clear that the cast were enjoying themselves as they produced a series of sketches around love and relationships and Valentine's Day. A simple but effective set of restaurant tables allowed the company the freedom to give us sketches ranging from macabre to slapstick. These were interwoven with "Lyrical Interludes" telling the story of one particularly troubled relationship by using a variety of song lyrics.

Some of the sketches were stronger than others, but the pace was nicely judged and I've got to admit to having sore jaws at the end from grinning for just over an hour. None of the stories had huge twists - everything was fairly well signposted - but you shouldn't expect that in this kind of work. Trying to work a huge reveal in takes time you just don't have in short simple tales and can end up looking forced or contrived. The fun tonight was in the journey, not necessarily the destination.

Special mentions have to go to Hairbrush, written and performed by Patricia Preston which was a nicely delivered Alan Bennett-ish monologue. Also a brave and witty a capella performance of 'Daisy Daisy' with a French twist by Siobhan Crawford. However, this was very much an ensemble performance which worked well as a whole.

The Stalls Studio is a small space, with a difficult layout - the audience sits on 2 sides of the square, facing each other, with only one entrance and exit. However this had obviously been considered carefully in the set layout, and in the direction. The large cast did well in remembering to play to both sides of the room.

Sometimes the advantage of community/amateur company performances is that the cast are enjoying themselves as much as the audience, and this was a perfect example. If you think that they might have lower standards, then think again.

1 Heckle

Statler said...

It would be tempting to strip this show down to its parts and analyse the relative strengths and weaknesses of each piece but that would miss the point entirely. While it would be fair to say that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts it wouldn’t convey just quite how fun this show was. Well performed, well written and well put together and at just over an hour in length it was perfectly pitched.

Just one word of warning, although probably my favourite piece (along with the Lyrical Interludes) Au Restaurant really does contain some choice language, so please remember this show is intended for ages 14 and up.

Well worth seeing if you can as it runs until Saturday the 17th, and for Valentines night it was certainly a lot better value than paying silly money to be crammed into a restaurant for food and service half as good as any other night of the week. This kind of topical/event theatre is a great concept that more companies should make use of as I'm sure there is demand for alternatives on such evenings.