My Foot My Tutor
The Arden have always been so provocative at questioning - even challenging - a concept as fundamental as What Is Theatre? and its variables. Here, it’s more specifically: What is The Role Of The Audience?
The performers introduce, instruct and construct on stage; namely a makeshift desert island out of cello-tape.
Even subconsciously, the audience slowly become complicit within the piece itself, asked to behave like proper audiences members.
It adopts a minimalistic approach (just the cello-tape, microphones and a keyboard, fittingly having Klaus Badelt’s main theme to the original Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy, subtly played in the background).
It’s all the more effective for this very simplicity, showing that with only the right questions and a probing central conceit - the desired objective can be achieved. Its title, refers to a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a clever mechanism on which to base this piece.
There are some terrific one-liners, mainly deriving from the miscommunication which arises from the nature of theatrical artifice. Its themes also, always relate to the inter-relationship between performer and spectator, and how that boundary of tradition can always be broken, manipulated and re-represented.
Using a very different source for its inspiration, that of David Lynch’s idiosyncratic eighties ground-breaker of a TV-serial Twin Peaks, this has several stunning re-enactments from the show, but always insisting it ‘is not Twin Peaks’.
Stylistically, the way this is staged, is to have a television set in the centre, and have all the actors expertly mime the dialogue from the clips shown. This is carried off with astounding accuracy by the company - they never speak in role, and yet what they say is always evident through the form of mime, effortlessly performed and painstakingly realised.
This constant juxtaposition of the live verses the recorded is a fascinating concept to explore performatively: can what is already documented ever compete with the raw immediacy of liveness? Melding the two together helps them be examined both concurrently and on individual merit, and working in tandem the combination is just as it should be: seamless.
Detectives read time-coded transcripts by lamp-light like hard-boiled noir anti-heroes as the repetitive cacophony of the TV continues.
Subversion was the touchstone on which Twin Peaks was founded, on every level: structure, characterisation, pacing - and it’s this very confounding of expectation which translates to the stage - to simply stunning effect.
Reviewer: James Burgess
Reviewed: 26th January 2017