Even if the title is cumbersome, the show itself is not. Every Building Tells A Story. Every Story Collapses Eventually. – yep, a two-sentence title – begins before it has begun. If you went to see Once The Musical during its two-year stint at the Phoenix Theatre, you will recall the pre-show live music that was performed before the lights went down for the start of the show proper. Here, some rapid and free flowing descriptions from the cast as to what their “perfect building” would be open proceedings as the audience gradually files in. Some ideas are more coherent than others as we hear about marshmallows and unicorns one minute and ornate brickwork and landscaped gardens the next. I assume all this was at least somewhat improvised, with the cast almost in a verbal battle against each other to describe the ‘best’ sort of ideal city dwelling possible, building (so to speak) on previous statements.
One particular description, however, given after the house lights have gone down, is so elongated and detailed it rather outstays its welcome, even for this unassuming audience. But I did think of plays that are entirely set in one place, one building, one room – and if it is possible to draw out an evening’s worth of drama from a single location, there’s significant food for thought in the show’s title, which led me to believe there might be some interesting stories about some of London’s buildings, whether the properties in question are old or new or large or small. Instead, it’s rather more generalised, and although there are some specifics thrown in, these are within the wider context of London itself rather than informing its audiences on anything about any of the capital’s many structures, tower blocks, skyscrapers, housing estates, places of worship, and so on.
I was pleased with a long scene parodying the language of letting agents in the capital, as they attempt to rent out the smallest of properties, in decrepit conditions, for extortionate rates. It also parodied the limitations of portraying a real-life scene on stage, only to proceed to demonstrate what can be achieved on stage with some ingenuity and creativity.
While I personally found the outlining of the development process of the play and the future career plans of the cast members (Andy Roberts, Dani Mosimann and Georgia Murphy) of interest, I remain unsure whether including such details added very much to the show itself. On balance it probably didn’t, though I concede it is a suitable device to continue to engage the audience while significant scene changes are going on in the background. The dialogue is impressively very much up-to- date, with a suitably subtle and implied reference to the recent (at the time of writing) UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.
The cast spend much of their time talking directly to the audience, with just a smattering of participation included (at the risk of revealing too much, there’s nothing for anyone in the audience to get nervous about). It isn’t all relentlessly rapid, though the wide range of devices and techniques used to advance the story leaves the play in danger of trying to be too many things at once.
There is a modicum of poignancy in a long description of what London means to the cast members; suffice to say there are probably as many different ‘meanings’ of the Big Smoke as there are residents within it. This is certainly an energetic performance – at one point the cast themselves were audibly catching their breath – and overall, a very delightful one at that. They’re clearly enjoying themselves in this dynamic and passionate production. We in the audience enjoyed it too.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Three slightly unhinged performers, who look suspiciously like estate agents, lead you on a surprising journey through the urban sprawl of everyday life.
The housing crisis, gentrification and regeneration are all hot topics often explored but these issues are just some of the branches of a wider question often unanswered. How does the built environment around us affect our identity? We live in these cities, towns and landscapes day in and day out. They are our home. So how do they define who we are as people? Throughout the cycle of our history we build and we destroy and we search to find meaning.
Every Building Tells a Story. Every Story Collapses Eventually switches from political and poignant to comedic and ridiculous in the blink of an eye and explores the bonds we form in relation to the space we occupy.
Rough Triangle use a unique blend of game play, storytelling, comedy, lo-fi visual spectacles and autobiography to present this unique piece, including an ill-fated love story, the building of skyscraper, the demolition of a council estate and a dance piece, with cardboard boxes. The company lay utopian dreams of structural bliss bare, before haphazardly demolishing them to make room for the next.
And there is a bit with boxes, loads and loads of boxes.
ROUGH TRIANGLE PRESENTS
Every Building Tells A Story. Every Story Collapses Eventually.
Dates: July 2, 2016 – July 3, 2016
Rosemary Branch www.rosemarybranchtheatre.co.uk