Pros: An actor-led, devised approach makes for punchy, minimalist thrills.
Cons: The conclusion of the first play is slightly underwhelming.
Creatives of PLAY Theatre Company, a collective established just two years ago, bring their pleasingly minimal and playful shorts to the cavernous depths of the still-relatively-new Bunker theatre in London Bridge.
The two plays are run back-to-back with a short break between. Both are brief, actor-led devised pieces and each benefited from this. The actors in both plays are comfortable with their characters and the dialogue is both natural and playful, with anxiety playing a central role throughout.
The first, a piece called All Songs Are Love Songs, charts the relationship from start to finish of a young couple. The action starts at a Club Tropicana themed venue and ends in the same place, with several stops between. Various set pieces allows the two actors to show off their strong devising skills. The audience is given a hilarious peek into the interior monologue of the sometimes nervous but crowd-pleasing Isaac (played by Patrick Osborne) as he mutters his deepest, darkest, funniest thoughts into a microphone, which he frequently pulls from his pocket. Lauren Drummond’s characterisation of cutesy and angelic Lucy accurately fits Isaac’s description of her as ‘an angel in HD’ – a testament to the successful collaborative approach of the cast alongside writer Sam Taylor.
The second, shorter piece is a similar delight. The characters in Pancake Day are well thought through and played out with textbook skill and comic timing. The action centres on two girls battling it out for the heart of one pizza delivery boy, allowing the cast plenty of room to play. There are some fantastic lines from writer Miriam Battye. In particular, one character’s disdain for elbows due to them being ‘both hard and soft’ almost brought the house (or bunker?) down. As the play progresses, the writing becomes hilariously self-referential in places. Through no fault of their own, the actors were forced to stop before the dance finale due to a technical hitch and we were encouraged to chat amongst ourselves as the techno-wizards fixed the issue – it was definitely worth the wait.
Minimalistic set design by Fin Redshaw serves both plays well. With just a few multi-coloured lines drawn across the stage and some boxes, he manages to create several nightclubs and apartments with a subtle, and topical, school playground undertone.
Chatting to one of the more knowledgeable audience members outside who was familiar with the company, she informed my glamorous co-reviewer and me that they form part of a much larger collective of actors, writers and directors working in unison. If you get the chance, go and see some of their work. You won’t be disappointed.
Authors: Samuel E. Taylor and Miriam Battye
Directors: Jocelyn Cox and Jamie Jackson
Designer: Fin Redshaw
Box Office: 020 7234 0486
Booking Link: https://www.bunkertheatre.com/whats-on/takeover/about
Booking Until: 8 July 2017