Arriving bang on time to the White Bear Theatre I was a bit alarmed to see that it was already full. After a bit of ‘would you mind moving up please?’ I and several others managed to squeeze in. The popularity of this show was definitely a sign of what was to come.
The CO-OP, written by Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson and Felix Grainger, is about a struggling, co-operative acting agency, where the agents are also the actors they represent. This dysfunctional (but genius) dynamic means that the members of The CO-OP have the double-edged sword of disappointment when, as agents, they fail to get their clients any auditions and when, as actors, their agents fail to get them any work. The play opens with the arrival of a potential new member, Charlie. With his recruitment the cracks begin to appear and the drama unfolds.
This production is a force to be reckoned with. It begins with Cazza (Cara Steele) and Jimmy (Fogarty-Graveson) re-enacting a scene from Pulp Fiction. It’s so captivating and funny that I worried the play had started with unmaintainable energy levels. Thankfully I was wrong. The production only has three actors, but each fill time and space with such magnitude that it feels like more. Fogarty-Graveson is particularly funny, but Steele and Grainger are almost his equal in their roles, playing their characters with nuance and believability. The cast has great chemistry, bouncing off each other well, lifting the play and maintaining its high energy throughout.
The well-written script moves along at pace, and it’s very, very funny (I laughed out loud the whole way through). The dialogue is interspersed with popular music and further re-enactments of famous film scenes. It’s remarkable how, in such a simple, stripped back space and the short amount of time, the cast manage to take you on a journey, through film, music and through their lives.
The CO-OP is an insight into the brutal world of acting, the disappointment of auditions and its cut-throat process. I’m finding it hard to fault Make it Beautiful Theatre’s debut production and am already looking forward to their next one.
Written by: Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson & Felix Grainger
Produced by: Make it Beautiful Theatre
Booking link: https://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk/whatson/The-CO-OP
Booking until: 25 January 2020