Sunday, 15 January 2012

Round the House - review

Written by: Lozmonster (@LozStreet1)

Where Woz Loz?
The Ovalhouse, London
Woz Loz Loving it?

Round the House is part of 33% London’s gala/festival of young writing: six site-specific pieces written, directed and performed by under 26s.

Reading the short descriptions of the pieces does not give me a lot of confidence. I worry I’m about to see lots of very ‘studenty’ drama, about ‘hard-hitting’ stuff; how angsty and troubled we youths are and what naughty stuff we get up to. It’s usually quite self indulgent. However, if the ‘content of a sensitive nature that some audience members might find disturbing’ (the warning given in the program) is handled, written and performed well then credit shall be given.

I’m afraid to say that it is almost exactly as I feared. The pieces were written and directed by different people, so I’ll sum them each up respectively (although, the program only references 5 of the pieces, and they were not in the running order given, so I’m sort of piecing it together):

1.     Give Me Everything Tonight – by Frances Bushe (clearly a fan of Pitbull)
One of the better ones. Handled realistically: there was truth in the teen couple’s argument, but direction could have made the scene a little more poignant. Performances were clear, with the rather insensitive girlfriend creating good drama against her besotted (but clueless) boyfriend, who won’t come out because he cares for his dad who has what sounds like Alzheimer’s.
2.     The mystery play, which I’ll call Care Bears – by mystery writer.
A bit pointless. 3 girls in school uniform. The one character who seemed to be making some sort of a point never really reached it: she’s being quite anti-boy chasing and rising above taunts that her virginity is still intact – very girlpower-y, but then negates it all by provoking her friend by making her believe she slept with the friend’s brother...then they all storm off. Hmm.
3.     No Free Parking – by Ed Baranski
Guy tied up on a car, gagged, with a sign round his neck saying “whatever you do, DON’T untie me”, which he seems to fervently agree with. So his friends debate over how to help him when they find him. Kinda funny. Concept could be good but isn’t fully developed, I’m not sure the writer knew what the scenario was and we certainly didn’t. Direction could have tightened up the timing a bit.
4.     Tea – by Toby de Angeli and Nichol Keene
By far the most interesting. Same style of teenage subject matter as the others, but a good example of how withholding the obvious can be more effective. The only writers to play with form, and try something interesting with language – quite like a poem. First time I feel I should mention an actor: Rachel Jackson. Very engaging and utterly believable.
5.     At Risk – by Rick Thornton
Very stereotypical urban London youths. One guy gives his mate a hard time for having a respectable job off the streets, but then appears to be very interested in the theatre he’s working in, and gets excited at the prospect of Michael Billington seeing the show. Confusing. Thornton is trying to work some subtext in, but is too heavy-handed.
6.     The Meet – by Nathon Byron
Byron seems to be going for a truth and reconciliation thing here. Girl waits to meet someone who we think has hurt someone she loves (a rather obvious conclusion), he shows up, she forgives him and tells him it’s not too late to change...he seems pretty grateful, and then leaves. Was hard to hear because the scene took place in the cafe. Directed well, but not much to it.

Because of the warning given in the program, I keep expecting the pieces to show some violence, or discuss an extreme topic. The notice sets up the impression we’re going to see some new era Sarah Kane type stuff, but it is all decidedly tame. 3 stars awarded for the better pieces and glimpses of potential – not to mention giving plenty of young people a great platform to perform some work and hone skills, but on the most part Round the House is nothing we haven’t seen before, and evokes very little emotion.

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