Lads (and ladies) on tour

The idea of taking a show on tour to Ireland is a new one for WUDS, which is strange as it seems like an obviously good idea; it gives opportunities for students, strengthens relationships with other theatre departments and crucially raises the reputation of WUDS. The prospect excited me enough to persuade me to make the effort to travel to Belfast to see the show. The show chosen to represent WUDS in Ireland is an interesting one; 100, originally a piece of devised theatre taken to the Edinburgh Fringe where it won a Fringe First award. It asks the question ‘If you had one hour to choose one memory from your life to take you into eternity, which would you choose?’ It’s an interesting and difficult idea, one I looked forward to seeing being put on stage. Then I heard it was a piece of physical theatre! If I’m honest I don’t really like physical theatre, having had some terrible experiences with it in the past (being made to sit through four hours of Merce Cunnigham’s take on the Seagull being one of the worst). Yet, I decided to give the piece the benefit of the doubt and see what the actors had come up with.

{{ quote The script can’t have made the piece easy; how on earth do you play the line ‘Welcome to Death!’ }}

The play opened well; a bare, dimly lit stage, three actors lying in the space breathing deeply, fenced in by four white canes. After a few minutes of this the actors awoke and it became clear they had no idea where they were. It was up to Callum Murphy-Barton’s eerie guide to explain their fate. The characters re-enact their memories with the use of four white canes which for me were the best things about the piece. It was incredible how versatile these canes could be; at one point they formed a swing and roundabout, at another a photocopier, or a window. This was testament to the skill of the actors.

It was a great piece of theatre with a few flaws. Chief amongst these was the script which can’t have made the actors’ jobs easy; how on earth do you play the line ‘Welcome to death!’ Yet considering the limitations of the text the actors coped brilliantly delivering some interesting and nuanced performances. There were some genuinely touching moments as well; my particular favourite being when Saskia Roddick’s character realized her dedication to her job had deprived her of human contact.

I felt there were some issues with the space though. The purgatory the actors were trapped in seemed fixed and they spent much of their time on stage pacing up and down trying to break out of it. Yet during the memory scenes they moved out around the stage and had to hurry back into the space afterwards. This piece of theatre relies on the idea that these people are trapped but when it is obvious to the audience that they aren’t trapped it lets the piece down. But I guess I’m just being picky.

This was an excellent piece of theatre and it did WUDS proud and I hope this becomes a Warwick tradition.


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