Monday, 19 November 2012

Encompass Productions presents Bare Essentials II: The Emerging Artists Showcase

Written by: Samantha Wynn 

Battersea Barge, London

Last Wednesday saw Encompass Productions present the second edition of their new writing event. With Encompass hosting the event and featuring their own work and performers throughout the evening, they also chose to sit back and leave the limelight to be filled by other companies and artists performing their latest work. If any of you attended the first edition of Bare Essentials, you will remember that the Barge almost sank to the bottom of the Thames with the amount of people turning out to support these up and coming artists. Only half the expected amount of audience members attended on this cold November evening, but it didn’t stop those who did attend to show a warm welcome and support of the new, innovative work.

The evening presented a series of eccentric, at times absurd performances and was aptly opened by Professor Sir Roderick Hunter, a batty professor whose comments were sometimes close to the mark. The character written, developed and performed by Liam Elvish, was supposedly promoting his new book, with the majority of his ramblings often straying off topic insulting audience members, the barman, or his fictitious wife. It was obvious that Elvish was relying on his audience to provide more material, perhaps even inviting them to challenge him. Unfortunately, this audience weren’t playing ball and made him work a little harder to entertain. Elvish coped well and eventually managed to coax an audience member on stage to sift through his cool-box full of questionable objects. Needless to say, the whole performance was baffling but still left me wanting to know more.

The drinks continued to flow and the laughs ensued with the next piece directed by the Artistic Director of Encompass Productions, Jonathan Woodhouse, and performed by an associate performer of Encompass, Jonathan Whittaker, alongside guest performer Jennifer Palmer. The piece in question, The Interview, was written by Emma Minihan; a young, talented writer with a strong sense of humour and wit. The performance had a great energy and pace, with a clever, unexpected ending involving a cameo performance by the director, creating a cyclical nature to the piece. Despite the scene being performed on a stage, it showed real potential and could most definitely work as a TV sketch. 

Chris Savage King brought to life a series of characters in a performance, almost presented as a diary entry of Diabola Balsa, a foreigner seeking British Citizenship. The mocking of British culture and cuisine has of course been done to death but this piece managed to explore new ideas. The dry humour was suited to the taste of this audience, proven with the appreciative reaction to the final line “Remember to have compassion for yourselves and others, unless they are sh**s of course”. Though this was a comedy piece, it was evident that this one-woman performance was attempting to communicate a subtext. Similarly, this idea featured in the 15-minute monologue Fin written by resident Encompass writer, Chris O’Shaugnessy and performed by Austin Caley. The monologue began light heartedly as the audience sat judging the character: a single man with a good sense of humour looking for love, in a scene written in the style of a lonely-hearts column. However, the mood soon took a turn for the dark side; the sinister undertones of this monologue were enough to chill the audience, yet Caley still managed to charm us back, with him leaving the stage to a hum of nervous laughter.

The evening came to a close with a confusing yet endearing piece. The Actor Collaborator Company with State of Change Productions performed their devised piece, using different forms of poetry and movement to explore the concept of ‘family’. If we weren’t told the piece was concentrating on this concept, I doubt I would have been able to interpret what was performed. However, their kind offers of flowers, apples and bracelets as they filtered through the audience created a certain generosity that perfectly aligned with the feel of the event. Artists are given the opportunity to present their work, inviting the audience to help them shape the future, the direction of where it needs to go creatively. It is safe to say that the audiences of Bare Essentials are always open to the new and exciting work that has the potential to be the next best thing. 

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1 comment:

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