Pros: A smart, well-equipped new venue, despite the low ceilings.
Cons: A disappointingly thin script that does no favours for its similarly one-dimensional characters.
A review will frequently take me off the beaten path: I’ve seen shows staged in museums, churches and restaurants, but more often than not, a pub will play host to a fringe performance. However, Katzpace is tucked away in one of London’s coolest bierkellers. Katzenjammers is essentially a hole in the ground, with stiff bench seating, white washed walls and authentically low slung ceilings. Yellow and black tape is visible everywhere you look because the ceilings are so incredibly low; as a six footer I was tipping my head forward much of the time. The theatre itself is located deep in the venue’s bowels and lit by a neon light adjacent to a well-stocked bar. This thoughtfully designed space has comfortable tiered seating on three sides of the stage, affording excellent sight lines.
Gaps is comprised of two stories running in parallel as the characters dabble with dating app Tinder. The first story features Molly and Tim (Charlotte Shaw and Tim Larkfield) who have seemingly been dating quite happily for three months. They have just settled down for the evening with Netflix when Tim blurts out: ‘can I call you my girlfriend now?’ Molly objects to the use of labels in their relationship, leaving Tim crestfallen. Following this rebuff he meets Jo (Joanna Lord), a dentist going through a messy divorce. They meet via Tinder and spend an awkward evening in each other’s company. Meanwhile, Helen (Carolina Grierson) is the new kid on the block and anxious to make the right impression. She meets office lothario Sam (Sam Peterson) who offers to help her complete a new project. Helen has a blind spot where men are concerned and cannot be certain of Sam’s intentions.
The show starts on a reasonable premise, but quickly gets lost in a blind alley. Too little thought is given to character development and the exchanges, especially between Molly and Tim, are so stilted they don’t feel like real conversations. There seems to be a monumental jump in Molly and Tim’s story; one minute they are happily snuggled up watching TV, the next Tim is schmoozing with Jo following a pickup on Tinder. Moreover, Tim has absolutely no problem telling Molly all about the encounter. Everyone is different and relationships can take surprising turns, but I found it hard to believe this would happen after three months, when the majority of couples are still in the first flush of romance. With no suggestion of time passing, it’s stretching credibility to pass this off as anything resembling real life. Similarly, Helen’s naivety is absolutely breath taking. Could she really be taken in by someone as shallow as Sam? This doubtful grip on reality rips any real meaning from the play. Bearing in mind seven ‘devisors’ are involved, I wondered whether the approach was based more on improvisation rather than conventional scripts. Apparently the company begin with existing texts and use them to explore the modern world playing with form, structure and theatricality. An intriguing concept, but I couldn’t see it paying off in this particular performance.
Devisors: Helen Baranova, Tim Larkfield, Joanna Lord, Anushka Methananda, Sam Peterson, Matt Strachan, Grace Venning and Molly Ward
Director: Matt Strachan
Producer: Woohoo Debbie
Booking Link: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/230878
Booking Until: 2 May 2018