You’re not meant to ‘get’ or fully understand every aspect of Boris & Ingrid, a deliberately zany production that appears to throw everything feasible into a show, as though the creatives were adopting a ‘hoof and hope for the best’ approach. We start with an annoyingly long preamble involving some movement but not much else, aside from slightly irritating and overly repetitive music. That is, if you can even call it music. But, at least, that’s the worst of it, and everything that follows is infinitely more tolerable.
Boris (Txema Perez), one half of an elderly couple, shuffles through life, both physically and metaphorically. The missus, Ingrid (Svetlana Biba) is somewhat more mobile – there’s a dance sequence thrown in at one point to make this more than abundantly clear. A musician (Mikey Kirkpatrick, who prefers to go by Bird Radio) appears for reasons not explained in the play, but proves to be a very useful addition to proceedings nonetheless. I must get along to one of his gigs at some point: he’s got a lovely vocal.
Anyway, there has to be at least a modicum of exaggeration going on here – I would have thought the elderly, overall, were closer to being like Mary Berry (she of The Great British Bake-Off fame) rather than being utterly hopeless. But Boris and Ingrid’s (mostly Ingrid’s) failed attempts at a cooked meal, presumably a regular occurrence, result in them resorting to eating bananas, with various banana-based jokes and sketches for more audience amusement.
I note a particularly amusing moment when the fourth wall is breached rather too successfully: I would ask readers to look out for it, but then again, it may not happen in subsequent performances dependent on audience (non) reaction. The use of mime is done extremely well, and some of the scene changes are remarkably quick. The silhouettes are clear if simple. Unfortunately, the second half starts off with an identical scene that we had already seen in the first, leaving the audience patiently waiting for the ‘new’ material that would come after.
It’s not all fun and laughter though, as Death, itself well-costumed and personified, claims another for the afterlife. The implications of this are quite devastating and, in the relative light-heartedness of all that went on before, make for painful viewing. The ending, however, proves to be simultaneously highly celebratory and a little harrowing, with the first and last appearance of the couple’s children in the whole play – but in this, a piece of dialogue in the first half that made little sense to me at the time suddenly became glaringly clear-cut.
I would have liked to have seen a wider range of scenarios in which the supposedly senile find themselves in rather than similar scenes reoccurring. Boris at the Post Office. Ingrid at the bus stop. The possibilities are infinite. This is a messy production, and intentionally so, and while there’s much to be enjoyed in the physicality of it all, I didn’t really feel I got to know either main character as well as I could have.
Review by Chris Omaweng
From award-winning international company 2theatre (trained with Marcel Marceau, at London International School of Performing Arts and members of Cirque du Soleil as a clown-duo) in collaboration with critically acclaimed comedy director Cal McCristal, comes the hilariously sharp play exploring the inevitability of time, solitude and the joys of being odd.
The ageing couple’s routine of soup and nap, soup and nap, soup and nap is broken by a knock on the door… An absurd physical comedy combining creative puppetry, haunting mask, shadow theatre mime and captivating live music by Bird Radio. A journey not to be missed!
Boris & Ingrid
31st Jan 2016 – 4th Feb 2016
Main House – Pleasance London
Suitable for ages 14 and above