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Credit: Richard Davenport
Credit: Richard Davenport

No Such Thing, New Diorama Theatre – Review

Pros: The highlight of the evening was Mind the Gap, a great piece from Hot Tubs and Trampolines.

Cons: Unfortunately for this author, everything else on the menu.

Pros: The highlight of the evening was Mind the Gap, a great piece from Hot Tubs and Trampolines. Cons: Unfortunately for this author, everything else on the menu. No Such Thing was a night of new work presented by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and On The Run in association with the New Diorama Theatre. It was a nifty little idea, showing six little performances of about 15 minutes each. The forms are small, but the ideas are big, say the organisers. The aim of the night is to span different forms of theatre, and Monday's event included puppetry,…

Summary

Rating

Very Poor

Perhaps those more into absurdist theatre would enjoy these shorts more, but for us it just didn't work.

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No Such Thing was a night of new work presented by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and On The Run in association with the New Diorama Theatre. It was a nifty little idea, showing six little performances of about 15 minutes each. The forms are small, but the ideas are big, say the organisers.

The aim of the night is to span different forms of theatre, and Monday’s event included puppetry, clowning, physical theatre and good old regular prose theatre. The interval also featured some singer-songwriter style guitar music in the foyer. However, despite the great ambition and the clear love and drive that went into this night, ultimately it was slightly let down by the quality of some of its acts.

The night kicked off with Michael L Rawstrone’s The Infinite Struggle, a physical theatre piece that demonstrated a number of ways in which a man (who had lost the power of his legs) could attempt to sit on a chair. It was an endearing and quite inventive performance in parts, however not quite strong enough to carry interest for the full length of the piece.

Next up was Cuckoo and Co’s The Matilda Cure, an almost charming little piece concerning a woman who had problems with her love life, but found a cure by eating Weetabix. Visually it was quite effective, with a concise use of props, and the acting was engaging. However, the writing was weak and the crux of the piece was contrived and lacked emotional depth.

The Conductor was a piece by Julian Spooner and Jennifer Swingler which featured a man in a tuxedo ‘conducting’ an excerpt from Holst’s The Planets in a slapstick way, with lots of innuendos using the conductor’s baton, and with him lifting the back of his jacket to the audience to show them his bottom. Although it was acted very enthusiastically, unfortunately it was very hard to see what the purpose of this piece was meant to be – it wasn’t particularly funny or clever, so I struggled to find much to enjoy about it.

Rachel Lincoln’s Lie Back and Think of England was next up after the interval, featuring a teacher delivering sexual education to the audience. Although it was nicely presented, the ideas were extremely immature. There were one or two amusing moments, but again it was hard to see what the work was trying to show us that we had not seen before. The use of pens and pen-lids to act out sexual intercourse could perhaps be developed into something a bit more inventive.

The real gem of the night, and saving grace was Hot Tubs and Trampolines’ Mind The Gap, a beautiful little movement piece that followed the story of the widow of Oswald Laurence – the man who recorded the original ‘mind the gap’ announcement – and how she would walk to Embankment station every day to check that he was still there. Using the bare minimum of props, including a book, a clock, a suitcase and a ladder, three performers created an entire world through dazzling and intricate movement sequences.

The last piece, Old Watty Theatre Company’s Black Hoods was unfortunately the weakest of the night. It featured puppetry – a big fat lady puppet and a man soldier puppet, in a series of antics, with the puppeteers dressed in black and bringing some dance to the mix. Again, it was hard to see the purpose of this piece. The humour was really base-level (fat puppets farting to lift themselves up) and the choreography was very weak; the movements were uncoordinated and it just didn’t seem like mature theatre.

All in all, it was a disappointing night. The organisers of the show clearly have the ambition to put on brilliant theatre, and are capable of making good choices (Hot Tubs and Trampolines), but for this reviewer I’m afraid it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps those more into absurdist theatre would appreciate it more.

Producers: Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and On the Run
Booking Until: No longer running
Companies: Cuckoo and Co, Hot Tubs and Trampolines, Julian Spooner and Jennifer Swingler, Michael L Rawstrone, Old Watty Theatre Company and Rachel Lincoln

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