Pros: Some thought has obviously gone into the set
Cons: Confusing. The bonkers genius of David Lynch is entirely lacking
I first experienced Twin Peaks courtesy of a friend’s dvd collection some years ago. Watching David Lynch’s extraordinary TV series, I immediately understood why it’s held in such high regard. Ostensibly an FBI investigation into the gruesome murder of small town teenager Laura Palmer, the show is a masterpiece of ensemble eccentricity in which every character is hiding a secret, and violence and twisted lust are never far from the surface. Twin Peaks is delightfully weird and artfully bemusing, propelled on its zig-zag journey by some breath-taking dramatic twists.
Described as being “loosely inspired by the ground-breaking works of David Lynch”, The Owls Are Not What They Seem is simply a confusing mess. Nominally set in Twin Peaks, the bonkers genius of Lynch is entirely absent. Lynch’s work is characterised by a dazzling idiosyncrasy which makes the audience query what they think they know about human behaviour. The only question this show raises is how such an undercooked show could have made it to the stage? This isn’t a seat-of-the-pants whacky improv show, and although some thought has obviously gone into the set, and into some moments of quite evocative sound design, overall it isn’t “rough and ready” – it’s just rough.
I’ve no idea which aspects of the production are improvised – there’s no programme and the short blurb on the website just says that “each unscripted episode will chart a brand new hidden mystery in a sleepy town torn apart by the forces of good and evil”. If only. Such plot as there is begins when an artist named John is found “hanging from his own painting” (however that’s possible) at an exhibition. A motley crew of family/friends/lovers may have murdered him. An FBI agent who closely resembles Twin Peaks’s Dale Cooper (but isn’t actually Dale Cooper because this is an unofficial/unauthorised spin-off) conducts some cursory interviews and drinks coffee. There follows a succession of witless and largely static scenes which neither engage nor entertain. There’s some barely concealed corpsing at one point, so I guess somebody was having some fun. It’s just a shame it wasn’t the audience.
The Nursery Theatre occupies the ground floor of Theatre Delicatessen’s latest building near Liverpool Street station, and they’ve made a nice job of turning it into an attractive performance space which deserves better work than this.
Director: Jonah Fazel and Audra Goffeney
Booking Until: Playing occasional Fridays until December 1st.
Booking Link: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3071231
Box Office: 020 7846 0062