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Slackjaw Theatre – Smile You’re On Camera – St. James Wine Vaults

 

A cartoony version of a ‘Brazil’ type dystopia – a comicbook Kafka scenario is no less inexorable for all that it is humorous – done with minimal tech in a pub basement, that’s all pretty darn Fringe in my book, and this was a neat little show from a brand-new Bath company of some promise.

Together they exhibit the sort of energy, teamwork, and skills that usually suggest sporting similes (and are rarely exhibited by actual overhyped sports stars). It moved fast, they moved fast, characters changed, tho’ their predicaments remained static, stuck even.

The company and the writing artfully drew advantages from the limitations dictated by context – the tiny space, the truly minimal tech, the small cast  – and through lightness of touch skipped some issues (their youth, for example) that could in other hands have been liabilities.

Though the politics were mostly played for laughs as well as comment, at the heart of the piece there is an absurd existential horror reminiscent of Mark Danielewski or at least a darker moment of Borges. Perhaps the leap in scale down to two-finger stickmen could have been better managed – and I’d not understood the relevance or even attraction of those figures in pre-publicity till I’d seen the show – but there was so much to like in this show I’d forgive them worse than that. This show needs to be seen more widely, and I’m looking forward to their next year’s offering already. Bath has yet another theatre group to be pleased with!

 

Steve Henwood