Presented by MayDay Theatre
Pros: A funny, talented all-female cast with lots of great humour.
Cons: A lot of it just didn’t make much sense and the show had very little depth given the subject matter.
Our Verdict: Nice comedic performances from an undoubtedly talented cast, but ultimately let down by an undeserving script.
|Courtesy of Oxford House Theatre|
The 21st December 2012 is thought to be the final date on the 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar. There are currently hundreds of books for sale on Amazon which deal specifically with the world ending on that day. Some of these books are ‘how to’ survival guides, while others deal with supernatural predictions. You need not look too far before you find doomsday forums lurking about, run by dedicated theorists excitedly discussing astronomical alignments and government cover-ups. One such group are advocates of the Nibiru cataclysm, an idea originally introduced by Nancy Lieder, a lady who claims to receive messages from extra-terrestrials through an implant in her brain. She has received confirmation that an object floating about in space will make its way towards the solar system very soon, hitting earth and causing a pole shift which will devastate humanity. On the other hand, many New Age interpretations see the date as a chance for an exciting new beginning for humans. Meanwhile, scientists all around the world roll their eyes at all the fuss.
Mayday Theatre present This is a Reconstruction, which is a show dealing with the alleged impending apocalypse. It begins with the entire cast huddled around a TV set, awaiting government instructions on how to proceed when an impending asteroid hits the earth. We are then treated to a variety of sketches based on numerous TV shows. Firstly, a news report of the ‘Keep calm and carry on’ variety. There were quite a few good jokes in these sketches which I really enjoyed. At one point a reporter and a child psychologist discuss how a certain TV teddy bear with a rainbow is promoting homosexuality to young children which may lead these youngsters towards a life of crime. This kind of humour which thrives on poking fun at conservative views would not be out of place on a cult TV show like Brass Eye. This is swiftly followed by an overtly sexual Nigella-esque recipe show and a fantastic sketch centred around a make-over programme where the contestant wails ‘Help me! My eyelashes don’t have enough impact!’. This sketch is particularly amusing to those of you who find make-over programmes deeply patronising to women (like I do). The set consisted of very little apart from a few props which made perfect sense given the sketch show feel to the play. Costumes were modern and sharply corporate which seemed appropriate.
Much as I enjoyed the humour, I struggled to understand their link to the end of the world. Are right-wing homophobic opinions and vile make-over shows meant to urge us to welcome the end of the human race with open arms? If this is the case then the play is making a very valid point indeed. Or perhaps these sketches were meant to be a filler to keep morale up while the asteroid makes its merry way to planet earth? I was never entirely sure.
This show is not short on laughs but it certainly needs more structure. Considering the weight of the subject matter, there were no big questions explored and I wondered why no philosophical or scientific areas had been looked into. It seems that Mayday Theatre are more concerned with the idea of providing a Brass Eye-style show filled with nicely impious jokes. This would have been a great idea if the sketches had been more consistent and a bit clearer overall. Some were really very funny but many simply fell short and were a bit confusing. A number of them were linked to each other, some weren’t, others had clever political statements, some were just plain baffling.
This is an all-female cast who have a lot to offer in terms of natural comedic talent and I could easily imagine all of them successfully creating a Drop the Dead Donkey type show – one which showcases clever women with original ideas. However, this show does not sufficiently meet their talents as there were far too many weak areas and not enough to keep the audience fully engaged. Maybe the chaotic script is purposely meant to reflect the chaos of the impending Armageddon? Who knows. Either way, it simply does not succeed as a well-rounded show.
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This is a Reconstruction has now completed its short run at the Oxford House Theatre.
For more information about MayDay Theatre’s future work, find them on Twitter.