19 May 2014

Theatre In The Pound at The Cockpit (May 2014)

The monthly Theatre In The Pound sessions at The Cockpit have weaselled their way in to my diary simply by being so interesting.

Obviously the £1 entry fee helps but as the evening costs me around £20 once the travel and beers are taken in to account it is the quality and variety of the performances that bring me back.

The set of six pieces that I saw in May against confirmed that the simple concept of 15 minute try-out sessions works.

Party Quirks was a self contained piece that had the potential to be extended. A surprise party was not going well, they even forgot the vol-au-vents, and then got worse when a member of the family turns up and over played his mental health issues to embarrass the others.

The point being made was about them rather than his mental health, that was just an excuse for him to say the sort of things that are often best left unsaid. There was some straight comedy pieces too, with a recurring vol-au-vent theme among them, and it was an entertaining little drama.

Election Night was a look at people in politics with a politician facing an important victory being confronted by a ghost from the past in the shape of a former colleague who questioned his motives.

Other political themes were thrown in to the mix, such as calling the party The Federation of East Atlantic Islanders which hinted at 1984.

This was another self-contained piece with potential.

Revolutionary Road was an acting try-out. Two actors who were about the play a couple wanted to try-out some aspects of their relationship and they performed two scenes from that play. The scenes were set some years apart.

This was my highlight of the evening. I liked the piece a lot. The mid-American accents and the dark undercurrent gave it something of a Tennessee Williams, which was good. But it worked because of the acting. They were a very convincing couple despite looking ridiculously young.

One of the mice things about Theatre in The Pound is that it gives you the opportunity to give feedback to the creatives and I was delighted to be able to tell them what I thought of their performances.

After a short break for another beer (Budvar) we returned to see 2+1. This was a piece of dance exploring some of the impacts a new baby has on a couple, things like the demand feeding, sleepless nights and all that washing.

This was interpretive dance, i.e. there was more dancing and less acting, and it was good dancing too. I asked a question about influences on dancing styles afterwards as the rolling and arm movements reminded me of Russell Maliphant and was interested to learn that a lot of the detail of the choreography had been left to the two dancers.

Perhaps it was because it was a long time ago but the story of the ups and downs of having a new baby did not resonate with me (the many young people in the audience were more sympathetic) but I did enjoy the dancing.

Cut it out! felt like something of a time-shift but that may be because it originated in Australia (sorry Australians) which feels to me as an outsider as though it is still stuck in the 80s, a view not helped by the recent election of Tony Abbott. In this except for a play a conservative senior medic invites a new colleague and his partner around for dinner only to discover that his partner is another man, and one playing the queen outrageously for effect too.

It was funny but, rather like Carry On films, it felt like an old joke from an older time. Old jokes can still be funny and I found myself laughing at quite a few of them.

Earwig was billed as a black comedy which is my sweet-spot. In this middle-piece from a longer story three workers in a package sorting office discover a human head which was a great shock to the new member of the team but which was treated as just an every-day occurrence of no importance by the two long-term members.

Apart from opening and moving a few boxes there was little action and the drama's heart was in its dialogue through which we discovered more about the three workers and this was both funny and disturbing, as promised.

Earwig was a neat little play and a fine way to end the performance part of the evening.

After that there was just time for a final bottle of Budvar and some more discussions with creatives before experimenting with yet another route to Edgware Road tube station.

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