Told By An Idiot, Don't Laugh, It’s My Life

Review in Issue 10-1 | Spring 1998

If this is an attempt to bridge text-based and visual theatre via anarchic suburban comedy (as one reviewer suggested), then clearly an essential element passed me by. Rather, as with so much current visual and physical theatre in the UK, it is a piece that is more or less reliant on the verbal text.

As a satire on false teachers, cults and human gullibility (taken from Molière’s Tartuffe), it was insufficiently satirical and rather obvious in its plot and not very funny. The piece is simply an inheritor and user of the English style of farce and slapstick presented by Wisdom Drake etc, what many see as a peculiarly English style of physical comedy, closer to pantomime than the dark or tragic clown.

Many of the staging effects, the dialogue and storylines are too obvious to give substance to the satire. Much of the physical vocabulary is either character stereotyping or unfocused slapstick. The exception is Hayley Carmichael as the Mother who, confronted with the invasion of house and family, falls into the dining table in a state of rigidity. Her frozen, clenched body is a haunting image of the frustration and rage against which she is powerless. Against this image, the rest of the piece pales.

Very thin material is stretched into dramatic banality with the frantic entrances and exits of farce and embarrassing sexual pantomime. The bitter twist at the end, as the family lose everything to the false teacher, does not redress the dramatic and moral balance. Although many in the audience responded raucously, this was just another piece of English physical theatre which is word reliant, putting verbal and physical comedy above the other elements and physical effects above substance and confrontation of the audience.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-1
p. 25