People Show 118: The Birthday Tour

Unity Theatre, Hope Place
(27th-28th March 2007)

Reviewed by Jennie Lewis

People Show, London’s most renowned experimental theatre group are currently celebrating their fortieth anniversary by touring the country with Show 118, their latest addition to an ever-evolving world of diverse contemporary performance. It is a show that will explore the past and the present, and introduce an un-expecting audience to a whole host of unorthodox, though somehow endearing characters.

Guided through the evening’s twists and turns by narrator Mark Long, I found myself questioning the relativity of theories such as time and place, sympathising with the situations of many misunderstood or misguided characters, some even in their unborn state! And finally, pondering over the possibility of the seemingly impossible.

Indeed each of the characters involved are unarguably outlandish, from the white-faced clown to the unfortunate, through unremitting tour guides. However, through each of them we are allowed a glimpse into another world, a world quite removed from our own. We are uprooted from the humdrum of everyday life, and instead transported into the strange and unknown.

Each moment of madness, though, and every stir of silence builds towards a rather chaotic climax, when we are treated to a visually and resonantly stimulating display of semi-violent commotion between all of the characters, as they assemble simultaneously on stage. Through the final moments of the show, the audience unwittingly falls witness to dancing boxers, are finally introduced to the illegitimate offspring of the elusive white-faced clown, and see the beloved tour guide plummet through a well places cardboard box to the seaside. Unbelievable, you say? Indeed. And by the end of it all, although distinctly satisfied, you can’t help but ask ‘What was it all about anyway?’

What I can say? Without doubt, the live music is first rate, the scenery is inspiring, and the dramatic content is intriguing, providing a real treat for the eyes, the ears and the mind. Each element is seamlessly bound together by the overall delivery from an excellent cast, who all obviously share a love for and dedication to the wonderful work they do.

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