Written By Robin French
Directed by Melanie Rashbrooke
How do you see yourself in the future? What makes you happy? How do you measure your success?
Promotion at work? Owning lots of pretty, fancy, expensive things? Fitting in with everyone else - or maybe, not?
Two plays at Live Theatre this week are asking all these questions. I'm not sure they provide all - or any - of the answers.
First up is Choirplay - which is described as an audacious experiment in form. It reminded me of my church youth group days - chanting responses on those rare occasions when the vicar chose not to sing evensong. Lines are delivered solo, repeated, and then answered in unison like a choral production, but without the singing. An this is a much different catechism than you would find at church. These young people worship a different god. How do you see yourself in the future? The question is asked and answers include much ownership of stuff, including the "right" partner, and a lone voice calls out "Happy" to be asked again and again "Is that all?" Do things make us happy? Do they represent success? Do they help us to fit in? Maybe, but then again, maybe we don't want to fit in! Ironically, the play shows us all following the trends, buying into the marketing, owning stuff to make us happy...worshipping at the Church of Ikea.
The second of the plays is a more traditional, linear story. It follows the relationships of six people as they struggle to find happiness and success. But that is where the tradition ends - the play is quirky and full of dark humour - cannibalism is, it would seem, the new black (sadly for Roy he doesn't last long, eaten within the first five minutes!) Success for these people is seen in terms of promotion, moving onwards and upwards at the expense of others, whether they be friends, rivals or lovers. A better job, a new swimming pool. A hunger fed. But none of it satisfying. Friendship and love are tested and found wanting. What is the point of it all anyway? In the end, all you can do is eat the people who betray you.
The plays are surprising and very different. The acting and direction is sharp. The timing and delivery of lines perfect for drawing out the audience reactions. You will laugh out loud and then wonder what exactly it is you are laughing at. Questions are asked, and suggestions offered but you will have to decide for yourself where the way to happiness and success lies.
Breakfast Hearts and Choirplay are the first productions for The Six Twenty - whose aim is to make theatre that is "bold, ambitious and fun" that "excites, engages and provokes." These two plays certainly do that. Quirky, funny, thought provoking, and pretty bizarre. They leave an impression!
Ask yourself, how do you see yourself in the future?