Pros: An energetic, amusing and absurd collection of plays, featuring the most novel scene changes I’ve ever seen.
Cons: It doesn’t break any new ground, and the strength of the pieces varies.
There are few things more exciting to me than witnessing new work. Theatre N16 has a well deserved reputation as a platform for new writing and emerging companies. As such, my walk from Balham Tube to the Bedford pub was enthused. Settled in to a comfy bench with an unrestricted view, I waited to be entertained. Blank Tin Productions did not disappoint.
Three Unrelated Short Plays is Blank Tin’s debut production. Three twenty minute plays provide an opportunity to create almost anything. Of course this is a double edged sword. As might be expected, it was something of a mixed bag in terms of both content and quality. Each play contains a twist, so I shall endeavour to avoid spoilers.
The Stuttgart Syndrome is probably the weakest of the three plays, but not without its merits. Playing with the idea of being kidnapped only to wake up next to a moron, it is tightly written and well acted. However, the pacing drags a little and beyond the initial conceit it plays out much as you’d expect. One Scotch is my personal favourite. Three likeable lads religiously pursue enlightenment via a drinking game. The consequences are unexpected, and James Messer’s script contains some welcome twists and insightful social commentary. This play is somewhat like riding a favoured rollercoaster: you have a good idea of what to expect, but you’ll still enjoy the ride. Who the fuck is Dr. Deathzo? takes the idea of alter egos in an interesting direction. It fuses elements of Kick Ass with a pair of heroes, blessed with the power to break the fourth wall. It is the most self-aware of the plays, combining parody and absurdism with the routine of everyday life.
An honourable mention must be given to the scene changes. Humour and distraction provide memorable moments to an otherwise tedious process, and the actors’ commitment to this side of the production is impressive. Elle Banstead-Salim and James McClelland are the stand out members of an impressive cast. Overall the levels of talent, energy and chaotic invention are high. However, Banstead-Salim is impressively versatile, grounding each of her characters in reality even as the universe grows more absurd. McClelland has the capacity to switch from light to dark with an effortless charm, even at his most diabolical.
To look for meaning in these plays would perhaps be to miss the point. However, Messer is a talented dramaturge, creating pockets of truth amidst the chaos. The plays are all constructed well, albeit without deep foundations, and there are many laughter-inducing moments. All in all, this is an impressively entertaining debut. I suspect exciting times are ahead for Blank Tin Productions.
Author: James Messer
Director: Will Jeffs, Oliver Madam and James Messer
Producer: Elle Banstead-Salim
Choreographer: Will Jeffs
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.