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Crazy Glue, The Nursery – Review

Dramaturge: Katherine Markwick
Movement Director: Bert Roman

Pros: Original and clever premise, entertaining imagery, an evocative soundtrack and two highly-skilled performers working in perfect harmony.
Cons: Might not be to your taste if you don’t like physical theatre or miming.
Our Verdict: A clever and captivating piece that skilfully mixes comedy with tragedy, and features an excellent partnership of two accomplished performers.
Credit: Single Shoe Productions
I’ve never been to a theatre quite like The Nursery before. Located under a railway arch in between Waterloo and London Bridge, it’s spooky and a bit dank. Frankly, it felt like a suitable starting point for one of those haunted walks of London. Yet, the venue proved a surprisingly large, well-lit and effective performance space. It is perfectly suited for Single Shoe Productions’ performance of Crazy Glue. Crazy Glue ran as part of the Nursery Festival, an annual festival designed to encourage and develop new pieces of theatre.
Crazy Glue is a comic and touching story crafted entirely without words. Based on a short story by the Israeli writer Etgar Keret, this hour-long piece tells the story of a marriage between an archetypical man (Bradley Wayne Smith) and woman (Filipa Tomas). At the start of the play, the husband and wife are ecstatically happy newlyweds, and the play charts their relationship as they deal with life’s tragedies. The crazy glue, by which the play gets its name, claims it can repair anything, and the play asks if it can even repair a broken relationship. All of this is accomplished without words and with minimal props. All that furnishes the stage is a table, two chairs and the titular bottle of Crazy Glue. Everything else is created by our imaginations, encouraged by the skilful performances of Smith and Tomas.
Stylistically, Crazy Glue is cartoonish and yet strangely evocative. I believe the play is set around the turn of the 20th century; the action is backed by an atmospheric, nostalgic ragtime soundtrack. The physical comedy is strongly influenced by silent films and the Looney Tunes cartoons of the 1930’s. The bottle of Crazy Glue reminded me of the Acme products that promised so much to Wile E. Cayote and then never delivered. Yet, despite all the slapstick antics, the play also skilfully weaves in moments of tenderness and tragedy.
At the heart of this play is the excellent partnership of Smith and Tomas. The duo is a wonder to behold, astonishingly expressive and perfectly in sync with one another. Particularly impressive is their ability to use their voices to create sound effects for one another’s actions, always executed with perfect timing. For example, in the opening scene, we hear the sound of the bathroom tap running, with each performer taking over from the other to create a seamless gushing sound, uninterrupted by breaths. 
I must admit that I found Crazy Glue a little difficult to follow in places. Though, I have a strong suspicion this is just me, as my theatre companion took in a great deal more of the story than I did. As I’ve confessed on everything-theatre before, I am not a visual person and tend to struggle with physical theatre. I am a words person through and through and for me, plays will always ultimately be about the lines. However, even though I am not personally a fan of physical theatre, I can see that Crazy Glue is an original, clever and finely executed example of the genre.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Crazy Glue has finished its run as part of the Nursery Festival. It will run at the Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell 22nd to 26th October.
Box Office: 0207 701 01 00 or book online at www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/crazy-glue

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