Free To Do As I Say

Fall Off The Floor
Written and Directed by Joe Shipman
Unity Theatre, 7th-8th February 2006

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Remember that you read it here first. Watch out for the name Natasha Kalyuzhnaya. You could hardly miss it. But make sure you don't, because I am convinced she has what it takes to become a huge star of stage and screen. If she doesn't, it's because there is something lacking in the world, not in her. Yes, she is overpoweringly beautiful and I fell under her spell as soon as I saw her ever so gracefully glide across the stage, but more importantly she also has the presence, timing and interpretative skills necessary to bring the best out of any character. Oh, before I forget, Rebecca Illsley and Rachael Oliver were great too.

So anyway, it is five hundred years into the future, and society is ruled by the Allthing (Kalyuzhnaya) - who is a bit like Orwell’s Big Brother, Huxley’s Mustapha Mond and Audrey Hepburn rolled into one mind-controlling package. Jenkins (Illsley) has been condemned to acting-out the worst excesses from twentieth century cinema for the crime of having her own thoughts. How can she escape? Her best friend Pog (Jan Rule) suggests clubbing everyone's brains in, but Jenkins has other ides. All she needs is a spare body (such as that of Rachael Oliver) that has been stored for half a millennium and a scientist who is overly familiar with his pencil (Joe Shipman).

The first forty minutes were hilarious and exuberant, which left me wondering just what could possibly happen next. Unfortunately, it seems Shipman was wondering the same because that was where the play finished. The lights went down and the first claps came from somewhere offstage.

Considering this was Hope Street graduates Fall Off The Floor's first ever performance in front of a paying audience, Free To Do As I Say was a sparkling performance that bristled with potential. But considering that paying audience stumped-up £6.50 (£4.50 concessions), forty minutes was nowhere near long enough to justify their expense, future legends or no. If they can find the stamina to go with their youthful enthusiasm then FOTF will definitely be one to watch. As it is, they are definitely one to get complimentary tickets for.

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