20 January 2014

Theatre In The Pound at The Cockpit (January 2014)

My experiments in theatre have given me some pretty unusual evenings but not many as weird as this one.

I found out about this from one of the actors in one of the performances and that is how I found myself in the unfamiliar territory of Marylebone on a Monday evening.

The actor was Eva Gray and I joined her group for the evening. This included husband Rob Groves who went to the same school as me (Weymouth Grammar), though sometime after me,  and who was taught by my dad there. Rob also wrote the rather fine The Unrest Cure.

I was expecting some sort of a reading evening of works in progress but it proved to be rather more and rather stranger than that.


The first piece set the scene for the evening.

Dust told the story of two very different women, Joey and Sarah, in words and dance. One is about to be engaged and is fearful of the big step she is about to make and the other is a carefree caterer. Opposites attract and they have a passionate affair.

After the performance Miriam Margolyes opened the short discussion session with the comment that it was erotic, in a good way. I had to agree. It was also good theatre, a nice simple story well told. The dancing could have been better, to be fair this was only an early try-out, but there was real passion in the movement and the two women worked very well together. I loved it.

Whether by accident or design, On a Diet of Tinned Mackerel was almost more of the same. This told the real story of the relationship of two young women written and performed by themselves. No words this time, just movement.

It charted the various moods that every close relationship goes through and, just to give you a feel for how weird and erotic this was too, in one long scene the women slowly scraped foam off each other with kitchen knives.

I found it hard to categorise the performance. It lacked the formal narrative of a story, though it has scenes and moods, and while the movement included some dance the dancing was not the main component of the piece. It was strange but in a nice way. I enjoyed it.

After a short interval and another Budvar it was time for the piece that I went there to see, Someone's Lost the Plot in which Eva played a woman with strong hippy tendencies, especially in the area of alternative healing.

This was an extract from a longer play and we saw the start of the second half where a group of writers come together to discuss their projects.

It was a comedy of characters told through dialogue. It made me laugh out loud quite a few times, and everybody else too. It was funny and well acted but it also seemed very traditional after the first two performances and, as a general rule, I prefer quirky. That is why I do not go to see plays like Duck House.

The final piece was Miss B B Hoops who did tricks with hula-hoops while wearing a 50's style pink gingham bikini. It was impressive, entertaining and surprising.

Then it was back to the bar for the serious work of talking to as many creatives as possible. I managed to talk to a dozen or so people, one of whom asked me "Are you famous?", which made me smile.

The main point of these conversations were to pass on my compliments on the performances and there were also some discussions on how performances could be improved. A consensus seemed to be that Someone's Lost the Plot needed more physical action and I was something of a lone voice in disagreeing with this - Vicar of Dibley made Parish Meetings funny without much movement and I've seen plays ruined by extraneous activity.

Only a few times did the evening come close to what I had expected and it was all the more fun because of that. I saw four very different performances and had the opportunity to talk to the creators and performers about them. And all that for a quid.

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