After What Comes Before

Manic Chord Theatre
Unity Theatre
3rd April 2014

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Caution! May Contain Nuts

Boys will be boys. Manic Chord operate out of Leeds and consist of Dave Cartwright, Sam Berril and Andy Monk. This evening's play in the tight confines of the Unity 2 performance space could not cramp their style or quench their enthusiasm. However the psychological and ethical fall out from this one act fifty minute show raised more questions than answers.

So what was this all about?

To a backdrop of walls covered in esoteric and mathematical symbols and a similarly inscribed front of stage, large box of tricks, three quirky scientists enact out preposterously choreographed and in your face physical theatre. This is interspersed with witty or darkly poetical philosophising about what happens when a thought extraction machine interferes with the normal synaptic functioning of the human brain.

Slapstick in a pubescent Cambridge Footlights sort of way, the characters display what the rods of persuasion, manipulation and compulsion can reduce a person to become, a gibbering plaything ultimately of the fascistic tendencies of the perpetrators. The pandora's box provides the modus operandi of this aggression/regression divide while the on the surface action has a humouresque Monty Python feel to it.

Indeed the characters inform by their stereotypes; an impressive and cock-sure Michael Palin lookalike, a mustachioed caricature of Biggles flying by the seat of his pants and the ultimately unfortunate, fazed Fred Flintstone inspired victim of the contraption's dastardly processes.

Disconcertingly, this did not come across as the laugh a minute show billed at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. It did raise awareness however, for those wanting it, of how easy it is for control freakery to become the norm in our increasingly dumbed down society.

The last word goes to the last word spewed out. Cashews!

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