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New Moon Festival at The White Bear Theatre – Review

Glass Moon Theatre CompanyThis box set of one act shows is so steeped in the East 15 MA Acting course that two of its three programmes contain Spotlight numbers, Twitter usernames and even email addresses – but no dramatis personae. Anyway, these graduates, when they were still studying, were asked to do a project, which involved devising a brand new show. The actors who spoke to me at the intervals (yes, plural: plenty of beer time in this pub theatre) told me about having ‘had’ to do this. At first I thought they were expressing a slight disagreement with their course directors as to whether it was appropriate for quite so many marks to be allocated to just one aspect of their studies.

As the conversations continued, it transpired that rather than there being any problems with the course content, there was disappointment that many of the ideas generated and shared amongst the students were eventually discarded one way or another. I am sure at least some of what was rejected was valid and laudable, but the process of working and reworking brand new productions inevitably means plenty of cuts and changes. And some of those – maybe all of those – were not without pain. The crème de la crème of the many thoughts, ideas and concepts is featured in this New Moon Festival.

Fabletop Theatre
Fabletop Theatre’s The Girl and The Box

Fabletop Theatre’s The Girl and The Box never comes remotely close to falling foul of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. There’s this teenage girl and, well, there’s a box. The narrative, provided ably by Jack Carmichael in a series of Jersey Boys-style stand-and-deliver addresses to the audience, is clear enough – but in the midst of the action, it is never entirely clear how much of the play’s events are part of the imagination of The Girl (Jess Neale). Some of its aspects are so abstract and absurd – enjoyable nonetheless, mind you – that I found myself just going with the flow at times.

The show runs the risk of being too many things all at once. A relatively straightforward story is supported by very many creative aspects. They throw almost everything at this, from puppetry to beatboxing. It’s always very pleasant, however, and despite its silliness, surprisingly engrossing, and a wake-up call that without the lows of human emotion and experience, the highs can never be appreciated either: deny one, by default deny the other too.

Lippy Theatre’s Survival of the Fittest sees Charlie Rose (Jessica Hassan) taking centre stage as A N Other coming under constant pressure to strive to have the perfect physique. I found it a tad repetitive in parts, particularly for a show of this brevity, but there were some enjoyable aspects too, particularly a most unsubtle nod to musical theatre, enunciating lyrics from certain American shows in Received Pronunciation.

I can’t, in all honesty, relate to body image concerns portrayed here, having long ago resolved to not take myself too seriously. But I had a good laugh with a couple of Lippy cast members afterwards about certain technical aspects that went wrong on the night, ironically in a show about perfection.

But that was, we agreed, the whole point: humans can’t achieve perfection. If we could then we would cease to be human. The topics explored are very serious, but presented in an animated and exaggerated way as they are in Survival of the Fittest, they shed some striking light on what seems to be a widespread problem. The show’s themes are universally applicable, too, in a wider sense: I may have zero interest in joining a gym or sticking to a brutal dietary regime, but I am one of many, many people in the world who regularly try (or at least try to try!) to do better.

Synchron Productions’ ChroniCargo (a title that serves as a nod, if my memory serves me correctly, to HG Wells) is here, there and everywhere. Not that the production is haphazard and all over the place – it is well-structured – but it indulges, like Back To The Future and Dr Who before it, in time travel. Weena (Amy Liette Hunter) goes back in time to visit her ancestor Bertie (Samuel Adamson).

The inevitable difference between the generations and their understanding of the world is sufficiently amusing, but what was more striking to me was quite how similar humanity is irrespective of societal specifics. At any given time and place, in whatever context, people can be as caring, or as brutal, as they would be anywhere else. The various accents in this global play are performed with aplomb and skill – Adamson’s instant transformation from working class schoolboy to middle class author, and back again, is astounding – and Weena’s sense of urgency keeps the action flowing. I really don’t care much for science fiction, personally, which makes the fact that this show held my attention throughout all the more remarkable.

An intriguing and entertaining evening, the casts palpably enjoy bringing their own work to life. Whereas very many cohorts from drama schools tend to go their separate ways immediately after their final exams, it was pleasing to see that these graduates have continued to work together – and that their efforts are available for public viewing. This is a good opportunity to check out where the future of British playwriting is going. It looks very promising.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Glass Moon Theatre Company are incredibly pleased to announce the New Moon Festival at White Bear Theatre! A series of incredible new works written by fantastic London-based theatre companies. We see LIPPY THEATRE, Synchron Productions and Fabletop Theatre jump into the hotseat with their delicious new work set to bring fresh perspective, encourage expression and tug on all heartstrings.

The Girl and the Box
Through physical theatre, puppetry, live music and singing and acrobatic work, Fabletop explores what it really means to be human and to experience all of the wonderful and terrible things that everyone does every day.

It follows the journey of our hero, who after a traumatic event is left to feel sadness, anger and fear to the extent that she doesn’t know what to do. So when a mysterious traveller appears and offers to take away all the bad feelings, how can she say no?

Through her adventure to become whole again, our hero encounters many weird and wonderful creatures, some of whom are more helpful than others…
@fabletoptheatre

Survival of the Fittest
Survival Of the fittest is about today’s modern society and its quest to achieve perfectionism, in both appearance and everyday life in order to fit in. We explore mental issues, masculinity, media and personal stories. We look to understand how this quest for perfectionism is affecting our lives today…
@LippyTheatre

ChroniCargo
Chronicargo is a fantasy drama that taps into the magic of Christmas time – when everything you touch, smell, taste, and feel brims with potential. It tells the story of Bertie, a young man who through a series of adventures is propelled into a world of time travel, magical lands and extraordinary creatures. With original music, puppetry, oddball characters and an absorbing narrative, Synchron Productions asks what is behind some of the best and most inventive stories of British literature.
@synchronprod

These emerging artists hold no punches with an array of bold new works. They question what it is to be human. They engage and excite through fantastical story telling. They create new worlds inviting audiences to join them on their journeys. They question the social and political norms we have seemingly lost the desire to interrogate and change.

Performance Dates:
9 – 14 November, 2015 (Monday-Saturday)
6.00pm, 7.15pm & 8.30pm
http://whitebeartheatre.co.uk/

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