Brighton Fringe 2019
A lone human is on a mission to save the Universe. The dark forces of something-or-other have captured his DNA and plan to use it for the purposes of pure evil. Who would be fool enough to help him on his quest? Hilarious sci-fi spoof from the tightest new physical theatre company I’ve seen in years.
If you’ve ever seen a show by a brand new company fresh out of the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris, you will know exactly what to expect. You know that you’ll get an ensemble who move as though they are thinking with one brain, with every little movement, every utterance, honed to perfection. You can be sure they’ll hit their chosen theatrical genre clean on the head – it’ll inhabit its world utterly and push all the right buttons. You may expect at least four different languages to be spoken, but that you’ll still understand everything that’s going on. And if you’re someone who really pays attention to these things, you will also predict that the show you see will be very Lecoq – that is to say, that the company are still a couple of productions shy of finding their own unique way of applying their extraordinary teaching, and making their shows more than an extended end-of-term assessment piece.
That last one may have come across as unnecessarily harsh. But they’ll have heard a lot harsher at the school. I know, because I was there. And I was in one of those companies that had to take those tentative steps towards independence. I know what I’m looking at. And I’m looking at an extremely talented bunch, with a tremendous amount of potential and the gusto to make it count.
If you have no idea what I’m going on about – if you’ve never heard of the Lecoq school, and/or you couldn’t care less – if your only reason for being here is that you like a good comedy space romp – you will LOVE THIS SHOW. It has absolutely everything. It has a strapping hero and his far-cleverer female sidekick. It has loveable androids coming to terms with their own semi-sentience. It has the end of humanity. It has a cackling maniacal super-baddy (she’s just brilliant). It has explosions and cliffhangers and flashbacks. It has a steady stream of out-of-the-blue punchlines. It has very tight latex.
Clichés abound, both in the script and in the absurd plot twists, but the company makes the good choice of steering largely clear of the well-worn trap of spoofing specific characters or films. This gives the work a freshness and a universality – we can appreciate it on its own terms, rather than needing to feel smug that we understand the references.
Just as hapless heroes and heroines will invariably save the Universe, work of this calibre will ultimately save theatre. With a stage virtually bereft of set, these five actors can transport us absolutely anywhere, simply by synchronising their movements, emitting squeaks and zips with their voices, contorting their faces, sculpting a superb laugh-out-loud narrative, and carrying the audience with them every step of the way. It basically renders high-budget cinema totally redundant.
I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on Cut Mustard Theatre Company to infinity and beyond.