Pros: An energy that is transferred from stage to audience.
Cons: At times the audio is unclear as the cast shout over the background music.
I love twee. It’s just such a British word. Twee is simple, sweet, cosy, very British and possibly just a little geeky. And after watching Flew the Coop at New Diorama Theatre, twee is the word that immediately springs to mind, in the most complimentary of ways. Even the small folded pamphlet handed out as we pick up our tickets screams the word with its little snippets of description about the team. It’s useful to know, for example, that Rianna Dearden wants a world in which Boaty McBoatface is allowed to be called his rightful name.
Flew the Coop is a play full of energy. The young cast of five bound onto the stage, introducing themselves as The Rauchbach Greasley Association Society Club (RGASC), a small group dedicated to the promotion of three things: their homeland, Silesian; Rosa Rauchbach, a local translator; and her lover, Horace Greasley, a British prisoner of war. Whilst the RGASC may be complete fiction, Rosa and Horace are real. As the RGASC tell us from the start, “this is a true story. Events are told exactly as they happened, apart from the ones that are completely made up”. It’s just a little difficult to work out what might be true and what could be complete fantasy of either Horace’s or Rianna’s mind.
Whilst the story may be simple, depth is introduced by the well-thought-out direction of Louise Skaaning. As scenes speed by, the almost bare stage comes to life. Buckets and brooms are passed around, becoming guns, fences, even guard dogs. Possibly the greatest of all is how, as Horace plots his first escape, the props and even the remaining cast play out his plans as he tests them. Watching Horace climb through the toilet made from the body of a colleague is just brilliant.
More enjoyment comes from the way sex scenes are handled (after all, twee doesn’t do sex). A cast member hits a button at the back of the stage, music starts playing, and everyone breaks into dance; a dance that surely has to be described as twee and geeky.
Flew the Coop isn’t perfect; the RGASC is a clever concept but feels underdeveloped. It could be such a good way to carry the story along, but instead it feels fractured. The cast rush to the front at random times to remind us who they are and it just doesn’t quite fit in correctly. Rather than add, at times it distracts and confuses as to whether they want to tell the story as onlookers or as participants. Saying that, it has potential, and it really should be worked on rather than disposed of.
That issue aside, Flew the Coop is a play full of pure energy, fun and absolute tweeness. The enjoyment that seems to be on the faces of the cast as they rush around is infectious, and by the end of the story it is impossible not to smile. And as they break into that questionable dance one last time as we reach the end, well, I think twee really is making a comeback.
Director: Louise Skaaning
Writer and producer: Rianna Dearden
Booking Until: 4 March 2017
Box Office: 020 7383 9034
Booking Link: http://www.newdiorama.com/whats-on/flew-the-coop