Camden Fringe 2017
We are invited to enter the planet and consciousness of Pluto and his party which turns out to be not what he expects… We come to acknowledge his friends, how he spends his time and his lamentations. It is a fresh, new, very special piece of writing and theatre which pushes the boundaries; we experience another planet filled with dancing, party poppers and awkward social interaction.
PLUTO was written and directed by Callum O’Brien and was his debut in both fields. It was performed by MOONCHILD Theatre Company at The Cockpit as part of the Camden Fringe. The cast of three delight us tremendously and take us on a journey to the heart, soul and mind of Pluto played by Liam Joseph.
The set, lighting and sound design all intertwine to create an endearingly naive and futuristic world; instantly we feel like a child again. The set is simple and spacious, yet we know we are on another planet. There is a white latex couch atop a low-raised platform giving the impression of a living space, a couple of stacks of books dotted around and a small table on which beer and wine bottles are arranged. We come to realise that this is Pluto’s teenage headquarters and lair. White balloons are dotted either side of the thrust staging along the seats, cleverly guiding the audience to watch the performance face-on; it is all very thought through and we take pleasure in being so looked after on this exciting adventure.
Liam Joseph embodies the planet Pluto in human form and does so brilliantly with charm and charisma, his posh boarding school accent aiding his self-deprecating and self-pitying nature; mostly lackadaisical or inert he surprises us with moments of excitability when hula hooping, reciting poetry and his instinctual actions after the effects of taking pills, he is a delight to watch.
Meanwhile, the young, petulant yet angelic ‘Charon’ played by Charlotte Price is his foil, his best friend and enjoys at playing his guidance counsellor. Charlotte is intensely watchable, with arms flailing and quirky, jolted movements which articulates her emotions and internal monologue to us in a clear painted picture; she is effortless and divine to watch. Her adoringly nasal but enchanting articulated voice resonates through the auditorium and we want her to cheer Pluto the best she can keeping the invisible string that connects them both strong and taut.
‘The Stripper’ played by Thomas Lovell executes this role hilariously with extroversion that resembles that of ‘Prince Charming’. Donning an ‘I heart Pluto’ top and oversized wig we love this character, a sort of animated Disney cartoon. Thoroughly over-the-top he is self-obsessive and his camp voice, sexual physicality and ‘showgirl’ moves enthrals. His changes in emotion are marked incredibly and comically well, adding drama to the already strange world we have been introduced to.
If I am to be very critical and to provide suggestion to further this already established masterpiece and triumph, the character of Pluto could open up his deep internal dialogue a little more to the audience so that we really feel for him when he unravels in front of us. It is wonderful when the characters do break the fourth wall and just the action of opening up physically and vocally may lift this show that bit more.
I am profoundly glad that I accepted my invite to Pluto’s party and I plan on wearing my ‘#iheartPluto’ sticker proudly and will keep my invite as a memento for the glorious sixty minutes spent in awe of Pluto’s inner and outer world, never before experienced. I walked out of the theatre with a spring in my step and since cannot stop thinking about this play. Believable yet dynamic it has enlivened my excitement for new theatre and awakened my mind and spirit to future innovations in playwriting and staging. Callum O’Brien allows his audience to relax into this world which he joyfully and cleverly crafts before our eyes. This play leaves you with a renewed zeal and zest for life and the life that theatre brings us in the moments that it is alive for us to see, hear and feel; it is a theatrical revelation and as an actor it has inspired me to go forth and venture into stranger theatrical territory and this is why I award it with the ‘must see show’ rating.