Saturday, 12 January 2013

Monkey Bars - review

Written by: Rachel Hopping (@roadtorach)

Where did Hop pop?
Unicorn Theatre, London
Was it top for Hop?

Open, airy, and bright; the office–like structure of Tooley Street’s Unicorn Theatre provides an appropriate background to this thoroughly modern piece of verbatim theatre. Monkey Bars creates an innovative and enthralling take on the cut-throat adult world of business and adult life as suited employees tackle taxes, the Royal Family, religion, politics and social acceptability alongside nightmares, Ben 10’s ‘rubbish’ superpowers and their favourite sweets, all enthusiastically told through the often hilarious words of children.

Juxtaposing the urban jungle of the playground against contemporary concerns of the business world, Monkey Bars presents a compelling, beautifully crafted window into the mind of the child - chilling, emotional and completely thrilling. The movement of simple light up white boxes provides a transformative, dreamlike quality to transition meanwhile clever sound and props work seamlessly to create dynamic scene changes. Audiences are moved effectively from work to bed to cloakrooms and a variety of bars, coffee shops, and benches; without any spoken reference. The links we make are entirely of our own perception - the creation of illusion is what makes the piece so utterly magical. The simplicity of the set does not detract from the importance of words, yet we are constantly reminded of the authenticity of the production by the ‘red light’ of the recorder, and the ticking of the clock. Engaging and energetic, Monkey Bars tackles real issues, in real time: as politicians brag about their ‘superpowers’ and ‘strongness’ we are infinitely reminded of the controversies and broken heroic promises of our own, adult governments.

Every word spoken on stage is painstakingly taken from real interviews with real children, and the accurate beauty of the final product is testament to the enormity of creation behind it. A verbatim piece, Monkey Bars embraces all the idiosyncrasies associated with spoken word; the “‘like’s”, “‘um’s” and “and’s” of natural speech serve to create not just authenticity, but thoroughly modern consideration of a new generations  thoughts and opinions. The talent and focus of the company is another attribute to this fantastic piece, as the Unicorn Theatre expresses, children’s words are spoken by adults ‘not adults playing children, but adults playing adults, in adult situations’.

Chris Goode has created a beautiful version of reality – exposing everyday flaws and worries through raw, unedited speech. The poignant wisdoms of some of the children’s lines are laugh-out-loud hilarious, yet destroy taboo in a way which adult speech is incapable of. The dialogue is pacey, enthralling and in some parts utterly surreal and devastating. It is an innovative, heart-warming piece which never forgets its root and is a touching reminder of the influence of our attitudes on the young adults of the future.

This production runs until 26 January 2013

Follow us on Twitter / Like us on Facebook

No comments: