Presented by Genesis Cinema
Pros: A delightful and cosy atmosphere created in an architectural gem. Makes you feel like you’re amongst friends.
Cons: Due to that strong community feel, there’s the potential to feel like an outsider.
Our Verdict: A very fun night where your input will directly affect creative growth. The format is still finding its feet.
One of my favourite experiences in theatre is the post show tipple and the deeper delving into the earlier proceedings. It makes a great first date as you quickly find out what your beau is excited by or what they take offense at. This mixed bill of new work is designed around long chats and long drinks in the quirky and unusual setting of the Genesis Cinema
, one of the those hidden London gems.
Each month several short pieces are staged as part of this evening. They may explore an idea, a plot twist or a character, or they may be part of a fuller length work in development. The stage is about the right size for stand-up comedy (you could swing a cat, but that’s about it) so forget about elaborate scenery and prepare to make the special effects with your imagination.
It’s really great fun. It is a mixed bag – as the aim is to experiment there will always be weak elements – but the producers furnish you with introductions, question sheets and pens. There is always a feeling that if you’ve paid ‘good money’ to see something and it doesn’t meet your expectations then you’ve been cheated. However, by being very forthright about what the night is about and by asking you to critique the work, it doesn’t matter when you see some things which rankle because you can communicate that and the work will develop because of it. Similarly, if you love the way a character is built or a plot twist, you can congratulate the author and know that your comments will be read and appreciated. It is, in fact, the joy of being a theatre critic.
This was the second time the night has been run, so it is still teething and the format could be tightened up. Breaks need to stick to time: although everyone seems to be enjoying a chat, if you’re not part of one of the big groups it can get irksome. The sofas-so-comfortable-you-wish-you’d-brought-your-dressing-gown need to be arranged so that there are better sightlines, and a fuller programme is needed so we can get to know the people behind the work. I would also advise, like comedy, that either the best or best-known act is presented last, the second strongest first, and the weaker acts in the middle. Putting a weaker piece first can make one dread the rest of the night.
I can very easily see this evening spawning the next generation of fringe theatre stars, however, the producers need to remember one thing to ensure the longevity of this event: the evening is just as much about the audience as it is the new writers. The real joy of nights like this is in creating a fanatical audience not associated with any of the acts. This can be done by forming a Rep-style company so that we get to know the same group of actors; ensuring there’s enough information available beforehand about the people involved; having a book club style discussion group afterwards; presenting a website where everyone’s feedback is posted; or by promoting mini twitter reviews so audiences can literally become theatre critics.
There’s lots of room to experiment and make this a really exciting evening for passionate theatre aficionados. This is especially so because all the creators are in audience with you and some really fun mingling could take place if encouraged (names and role badges perhaps?).
I’m putting this in my diary for every month – and if you’re passionate about theatre (or just like to speak your mind) you should too. However, I’ll only continue to attend if they continue to evolve their warm, friendly, audience-focussed atmosphere.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!