Best In The World
Writer: Carina Rodney, Unfolding Theatre
Director: Annie Rigby
Reviewer: Michael Hunter
Rating 4 Stars
What would it take you to go from middle rankings to the top of the form?
'Best in the World' explores all of this and more with a dartboard, flying paper air-planes and the odd banana.
When Director and darts fan Annie Rigby watched Phil 'The Power' Taylor clinch his 15th World Darts Championship, she began to wonder, what indeed is it like to be the best in the world?
Greeted by a table of bananas (with a moniker, such as 'Have you done your best' and 'Have you achieved your goals today' written on every one of them) and a great stage set up of a huge wire mesh frame that holds together a dart board, together with audio visual aids that will help to propel this play/documentary to winning over the audience.
Performer Alex Elliot puts into play his own take on his best days work, with a warm up in the dressing room (we see this through the monitor that is on stage) that motivates his work for the evening...to do his Best in the World, for us the audience.
The tale of Taylor being an apprentice of Eric 'The Crafty Cockney' Bristow, going through tournament after tournament losing and being ridiculed by his friends, is told by Elliot, as though he is giving a motivational speech. To some I thought this might be a little off-putting, but to me it was a great journey that needed to be told in that way.
We also heard from Elliot of Triple Jumper Jonathan Edwards, who rose to fame with his world record jump of 18.29 mts, almost jumping double the length since his first competitive event. This was a good setting-in-place bullet point for the audience to show that patience and hard work will pay off. It mightn't pay off with a gold medal, as in the case of Edwards, but persistence and graft will see you through.
We the audience took a massive part in tonight's proceedings by sharing our thoughts on how we were at our best at a particular time, using the provided paper and pens we were instructed (only if we wanted to) to create a paper dart (otherwise known as a paper plane) and write on it our thoughts. We then flew the darts onto the stage, these were then picked up and placed onto the wire mesh frame. Elliot then used a video camera to show us some of the entries. Some were funny, some were heartfelt, but all aspiring to us all.
Elliot also asked for three volunteers to throw three darts on stage, with the scores being averaged out and tallied against other shows. Elliot did his best Sid Waddell impression, to introduce the three throwers. Some talent in the room I can tell you.
At one point in the proceedings Elliot told with utmost passion about the dealings of his first role on stage in Barcelona, having to cope with the death of his father, he decided to do his best for the production. Staying out in Spain whilst his father was being buried must have been a torturous time for him, but he gave it his all. I am sure his father would have wanted it no other way.
This wasn't just about darts, triple jumping or sport in general, this was about us trying to strive to better ourselves. With a great narrative Elliot lead us on a comic and powerful journey. From start to finish he held the audience's attention. I would love to see more from Unfolding Theatre.
Best In The World can next be seen at Latitude Festival
Tags: Alex Elliot, Annie Rigby, Carina Rodney, Unfolding Theatre, Washington Arts Centre