The Stage 4.7.02
Much performance claims
to be site-specific when all it is doing is relocation to a reasonably conventional
theatre. No one can accuse the Shunt collective of such an approach. Engaging
architecturally with two sealed Bethnal Green railway arch. They have fashioned
an extraordinary piece at once spoof conspiracy thriller, apocalyptic stage
poem and twisted cabaret. It displays complete theatrical control while leaving
room for genuinely unpredictable interactions.
The audience is let in off the street into a ‘conference hall’ and given national delegate badges. It is then privy to intense discussion between three conspirators about a proposed bombing on a train (as they rumble overhead) until the time nears for the hit. In a wonderful piece of staging the audience realises it is mirrored in the adjacent arch. - both groups then fuse as the interval bare and speakeasy style casino kicks in. Things then move from a church, whose hallowed text, German grammar book, to a post explosion scenario of bodies and wreckage. Paranoia is rife, everyone wears a mask (sometimes literally) and an air of disconcerting ambiguity hangs in the air. A dream of logic links it all that makes a certain sense once surrendered to. If the significance of the title remains unclear, then all is explained in what might be the longest, strangest and most unsettling curtain call yet seen. Not since the heyday of Desperate Optimists touring production has there been such an invigoration provocative and sheerly entertaining slice of British performance.