Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Tim Crouch’s new play for adults is "a story of hope, exploitation, togetherness and abuse carried out in the name of the spectator".
Hans Christian Anderson meets Lewis Carol. Tim Crouch’s new play (so the blurb says) "is a story of hope, exploitation,togetherness and abuse…" Really? The only hope I felt was that something worthwhile was going to be achieved before I left the theatre. Exploitation? Yes, I did feel I had been exploited. Togetherness? Well we were all together crammed in a small hot auditorium.and as for abuse, well with the greatest desire to be charitable, I believe I had been been – dramatically speaking. In spite of the slickness of the actors and the writing I don’t think I was alone in thinking that I had been professionally duped. A story of abuse was elicited from an attractive well-balanced looking pretend- ‘audience’ member, but in a way that neither moved, nor shocked me: my common sens told me that I was being abused.
When I entered the Theatre I was really looking forward to conventions being up-ended: I like that from time to time. It’s healthy and refreshing to leave the well-trodden path as new ideas can spring from new soil. In The Author, there was a lot of self-publicity about the Author’s great achievements (spoken by the author himself) but with the greatest desire to be charitable I don’t believe this play was one. Yes when I entered the Theatre it was clear my hope not to have a conventional evening out was to be gratified: there was no space for any acting to take place because seats filled what should have been the stage/acting area! Great! Now I have to say that the next 15 minutes which followed were brilliant – very entertaining, a lot of fun, and boded well. An ‘audience member’ ( yes we knew he was an actor but that didn’t destroy his reality, in our time) started to mouth our own feelings. We’d been sitting in silence for a while so he demanded when was something going to happen? An actor and cast member yes, but he was truly’ in the moment’ with us all. Now this was all good enteertaing stuff but presently when Tim Crouch himself piped up (also sitting among us) confusion descended. He was quite obviously speaking a script but it was directed at us: how do you respond when the speaker is speaking someone else’s thoughts – and you haven’t got a script for your response – and the person you’re speaking to obviously won’t have a script to continue the conversation? Either dialogue is scripted or it isn’t – then a third actor with a bald head who piped up ‘audience member’ and seemed to reinforce my understanding as to what soliloquy should have been. Then we got the abuse story: then they all got up and walked out.
Then after some lack of clarity as to whether our money’s worth had been had, we all left too. I hope the actors didn’t come back and find they’d been deserted.
I give The Author three stars for presentation and crisp writing and a good try (on) but what I experienced was not hope and all those other things the splurge promised, but an uncanny gut feeling that the White Rabbit had been wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. (Of course I could be completely wrong and have missed the point).