Brighton Fringe 2012
Set in neither the past nor future, the play depicts an Orwellian dystopia, not dissimilar from 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World. It tells the story of
Since watching Rhum and Clay’s Shutterland, I have tried many times to explain to people what it is about and I have come to the conclusion that is it extremely tricky to summarise. Combining abstract physical comedy and indecipherable dialogue, one could get so wrapped up in the show’s visuals, the storyline could pass you by. In fact, I saw a few children in the audience laughing just as loudly as their parents, clearly oblivious to the show’s darker connotations. Set in neither the past nor future, the play depicts an Orwellian dystopia, not dissimilar from 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World. It tells the story of
The atmosphere of control and oppression is successfully created through WW2 imagery and dialogue that one would associate with historical footage of dictatorships and oppressive regimes. One of the cast is seen preaching to a crowd in a Hitleresque frenzy, while his guards dressed in uniform move robotically on either side. With very little effort, they have conjured up a plethora of memory and association that the audience uses to fill in the back story. The presence of familiar objects and audio too, like gas masks, German radio and CCTV cameras, add to the uncomfortable atmosphere of anxiety.
The play was incredibly well crafted and rehearsed by these Lecoq trained actors, to the point that very precise movements just appeared effortless. The strength of these performers was apparent in such physically challenging roles. The bodies moved with the grace of ballerinas as they lifted each other into intricate poses without a sign of strain. Every flick of a wrist and blink of their eyes seemed calculated and worked to forge and change characters between seamless scenes, without the need of excessive costume changes.
Working with their snippets of dialogue, sounds and simple lighting, they managed to created authentic visual sequences. At one point,
They also used their minimal props to great advantage, with books and pieces of paper doubling up for other purposes, and of course, body parts taking on new meanings too. On more than one occasion, an arm or a leg is used as a hat stand. Indeed, much of the show’s comedy comes from these absurd elements, as well as incoherent dialogue. It seems these actors have mastered the art of talking absolute gobbledegook, while somehow managing to convey their meaning to the audience.
Overall, I was hugely impressed with this well oiled and original production. The audience is taken on a fascinating journey from terror to amusement, which I would highly recommend to anyone. I will be keeping my eye out for other pieces created by Rhum and Clay in the future as the dedication and commitment to their art is unparalleled.