Sunday, March 06, 2011

"The Belief Project" - March 2011

Perhaps it was the show's title; or maybe the philosophical sounding blurb on the Tron website; or the worrying director's note in the programme which described it as "an experiment to explore the effect our beliefs can have on our lives". Whichever it was, we were expecting something unconventional, rough round the edges and quite possibly a bit, well, pretentious. So it came as quite a surprise to find that it was actually accessible, polished and relevant.

The story of a young couple crumbling under the pressure of their hopes, their past and society's expectations in the face of the current financial climate is horribly true to life. The characters of Kim and Mark, and their lodger Scot are all fully formed and complex - while some things are black and white there are also plenty shades of grey here. And it's only at the very end that it strays into sensationalist territory.

Amy Conway's performance as Kim is close to heartbreaking and Richard Gadd makes Mark at times funny and even sympathetic despite the unpleasantness of the character. There's no specific programme credit for a fight director, but I have to say that the violence here is either the best or worst I've ever encountered in the theatre - it's either beautifully choreographed and executed or Amy Conway is taking a real beating every night of the run. Dòl Eoin completes the cast with a strong performance as the lodger they take in to make ends meet - and acting as our narrator. Eoin also contributes the musical elements that form an integral part of the show.

Waldorf took the view that as a whole the show was overlong at two hours (including an interval) and that the same could have been achieved in 75 minutes. I'm not sure I'd have been taking that much red ink to the script (written by Stephen Redman in collaboration with the cast) but there are certainly moments that added little to it - most notably the two scenes that are most overtly about belief.

"The Belief Project", either by accident or design, makes an excellent companion piece to "Staircase" which has been playing in the Tron's main theatre - and in truth I think "The Belief Project" is the better of two - and certainly the most current. And while it had a considerable audience in the Tron's Changing House studio space, were it to be billed/marketed more conventionally there is a much wider audience for this show out there.

The Belief Project from Flatrate has now completed its run at the Tron.
Image used with permission

5 Heckles

Stephen Redman said...

Thanks for the review.

Just wondering which scenes you are referring to.

I guess you are referring to the scenes with the explanation about why Mark and Scot were assaulted in the outside world (in a bar and an AA meeting)?

It would be helpful for me to know.

Thanks again for the review, I reviewed for the first time at the fringe this year so I appreciate the hard work that goes into it.

Statler said...

Hi Stephen

Yes, those were the two moments that I felt were out of place.

I found the AA/Higher Power issue interesting (and it could form the basis of a whole play on its own) but it didn't feel significantly related to the rest of the piece.

And I'm afraid my reaction to Mark's retelling of his encounter in the bar with the rant about The Singularity was 'Where the hell did that come from???' I've since done a bit of googling but it still seems to be an isolated segment of the play that (for me anyway) didn't contribute a great deal to its main focus.

Hope thats of some use to you.

malcolm said...

went to see this piece having been to "zeros" last year ....think this review is spot on .. highlighting both the strenghts and weakness of a very ambitious managed to deliver a view of modern soceity and its difficulties that should make us all think ..on

Stephen Redman said...

That's interesting to hear.

I didn't want to allow any of the characters on stage to be consciously aware that their own beliefs were actually beliefs. I didn't feel any characters with that level of insight into their own lives would have remained in such a clearly unhealthy situation.

So these scenes were a way providing a backdrop against which the actual themes of the play could be discussed without having any actual on stage debate.

I accept your criticism though, I don't think in the end they had quite the effect I had hoped.

I think I need to look carefully at these scenes if I am to rework the script - theres something about them which feels important to the themes of the play, however I do admit that they currently feel tangential to the plot. So should be either fixed or cut.

Thank you for your help, an objective outside eye is priceless.


Statler said...

Apologies to Malcolm - blogger had oddly treated his comment above as spam and blocked it without giving us any notification (although we received an e-mail of the comment we thought Malcolm had later deleted it himself). We only spotted it when we received another 'proper' spam comment today.

Thanks for your comment Malcolm and we'll keep a close eye on any future issues caused by this.