To create a full-length show armed with nothing more than the varied life experiences of a cast of sixteen: this latest outing from Theatre Royal Bath’s audience participation strand Engage is a brave and, as it turns out, a happy experiment.
.. under the care of writer Adam Peck and director Sita Calvert-Ennals – a cast of eight adults found themselves thrown together in a faceless room, surrounded by assorted boxes containing their various memories. For the next hour, they re-encountered – with expressions of surprise, joy, nostalgia and discomfort – and re-enacted these memories. The latter ranged from the touching (a daughter’s adoration of her long-lost mother) via the humorous (a panicked courtship beside a Cornish pasty oven) to the harrowing (a trip to a fancy-dress party that goes violently and terrifyingly wrong). And what did we learn from all this? Actually, quite a lot. It’s fascinating to a) watch people up onstage playing roles and b) learn about the hidden stories, the salty, salient details of everyday lives: and this was the best of both worlds. To see the animation in these ‘character’s eyes as they narrated real-life experiences – traumatic, exciting, playful – was arresting. Interesting and moving, too, to reflect on what this random sample of eight normal, see-‘em-in-the-street people revealed: that behind anyone’s amiable everyday veneer will likely lie some harrowing experience or personal epiphany.
More than any overriding concept to take home, there was the treat of peering into the chinks of sixteen lives, as told by sixteen eloquent, articulate and committed performers, and to reflect on the quiet drama of everyday life.
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