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Why That And Not This? at The Hope Theatre – Review

Why That and Not This?It’s surprising how often we as individuals do not question things and simply go along with the status quo, living lives doing what we always do, leading to the question – Why? Well, maybe part of that was answered last night at Islington’s Hope Theatre which presented the Spit ‘n’ Polish production Why That and Not This? a series of 6 short pieces that entertained for an hour and will have you thinking for a a lot longer.

Opening the show was JP Conway, preparing for a major speech at his company by using Bob Dylan lyrics – specifically “Blowin in the Wind” – to emphasis his point. As he goes along, he realises the power of these words, which both say nothing and say everything at the same time, and he starts to think about other ways that Bob’s form of words could be used to sell the unsellable.

In complete contrast, the next piece starred Chris Szuca as a man talking to someone. Initially, I like most of the audience I imagine, assumed Chris was talking to someone off-stage getting ready for a night out, but slowly it became obvious that this wasn’t the case and when the penny dropped, this moved from being a standard one-person performance to something a little bit more special that I found really moving.

Next we saw Alex Arksen being interviewed by JP for a role within a company. Despite JP telling him to relax and just be himself, Alex is very uptight and gives answers that have obviously been prepared well in advance – rather like any interview – until JP does something completely unexpected, and slightly unnerving and then asks him “when were you the man in the chicken suit instead of the man in the bubble?”, which not only helps Alex to relax but causes him to reveal possibly more of himself than he actually meant to.

The fourth piece was slightly odd to say the least and involved Alex and Chris outside a house trying to gain entry. The two characters were very different. Chris was edgy, a man with a bit of a temper possibly spoiling for a fight while Alex was rather creepy with a slow, deliberate and contained method of speaking that said so much in so few words. The ending to this piece came as a bit of surprise to me and left me wondering how we had got to that point in such a short time.

Moving from the earth to the spectral plane, we next dropped into a workshop where angelic project manager Chris was talking to a heavenly visitor in the form of JP about the creation of the Earth and the heavens. Built according to the official King James Creation plans – named Genesis – in seven days, Chris talks JP through the process which started slowly – on the first day we switched the light on – and culminated with the creation of man – in a way which dispels one of the major myths of world religions on day 6. JP shows a lot of interest in the new creation, and especially in a particular tree that is sitting in the Earthly paradise.

Finally, Alex came out to introduce the last piece which was not a performance but a recording from the streets of Islington of the answers that were given by members of the public to the question “Why do you do what you do?” Some of the answers were quite fascinating and I must admit I did sit there for a while wondering how I would answer that question had someone thrust a microphone at me and asked.

I thoroughly enjoyed why that and not this? and thought it was a well thought out and put together evening’s entertainment. Alex, JP and Chris were really good in their respective pieces and each one is really good. My favourites were the opening piece – I actually used to work for a company where the MD was exactly like JP’s character. I also loved the interview – having been on both sides of the table I could sympathise with both the interviewer and interviewee as they go through the standard process of a job interview. Finally, I have to say I thought that Chris’ conversation with his wife was wonderful and managed to get so much information about his feelings for her over in a really short space of time.

Before the show, my companion and I were chatting to a couple of people in the pub about the importance of the fringe to the development and nurturing of theatrical talent and I have to say that why that and not this? was a wonderfully entertaining example of the fringe at its best.
4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

why that and not this?
created & performed by SPIT ‘N’ POLISH
What if Bob Dylan was revered as a corporate hero, what if you told that person you loved them, dressed up in your wife’s tights, clucked like a chicken, drank penis coladas on the beach . . Why do you do what you do?

Fresh from a successful first show at the mac in Birmingham Spit ‘n’ Polish bring you six short plays ranging from the comic to the absurd, the tender to the oddball, and the mysterious to the heartfelt. Using both a mix of new writing and verbatim theatre we look at why we do what we do everyday and ask why things don’t go just that little bit differently . . .

What happens if you indulge that wicked thought you have? What happens if you say what you’ve always wanted to say? And do what you’ve always wanted to do? What happens if you’re not scared of doing that anymore? And what happens if today’s the day?

Over 60 minutes Spit ‘n’ Polish take you on a curious, life-affirming ride that asks ‘Why That And Not This?’
Over 18s only.
25th and 26th October 2015
http://www.thehopetheatre.com/

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