Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Mark Ravenhill pens this tense, stocatto thriller, the next not-so-secret episode in the Secret Theatre series.
Show 6 is the latest offering from the Lyric Hammersmith’s innovative covert programme, Secret Theatre. The previous 5 Secret shows plus 6 plus 7 are due to tour the UK for the next few months. So, before they all hit the road, what to make of this, a sixty-minute frenzy from the mind of Mark Ravenhill?
The blurb for Show 6 goes like this: ‘Are you who you think you are?
A fatal car crash. A memory uncovered. A secret that leads to revolution.’ That is, believe it or not, pretty much the whole plot.
The story is given to us by three of the Secret Ensemble in something of a stocatto fast-forward verbal tango into a dystopian utopia. Sentences are never completed, suggesting a futuristic development or decay of speech to a text-speak style. This has the dual effects of being quite aggravating, while making us sit up and listen to find the sense in the spoken word. Not altogether a pleasant experience but, cumulatively, this aural obstacle course makes us long for sense, for an answer, just like our protagonists.
The action of the play follows a pair of young Skins-generation scantily clad rich kids, whose previous night’s bender crescendoed with the boy running his car over some ‘chav’ from the ‘favelas’. He wouldn’t normally feel guilty about this, but this time something is different. Upon visiting the old sage-like chav in hospital, the kids are left with questions of parentage, conspiracy theories of governmental coups and a lot of energy to get to the bottom of things.
The ball never drops on this journey of betrayal and discovery; the performers are committed and do their best to fill the far-from-natural speech patterns with truth (particular credit to the flailing, needy Steven Webb).
But, after this complicated dance through dialogue and deceit, there’s no big finish. Maybe that’s the point. It’s a story of a failed revolution, after all. And maybe my frustration is the intended effect.
I want to be affected by a show, I want to come out of the auditorium changed. And, for better or for worse, that’s what happened. Overall, I’d recommend this show for its innovative writing and its engaging performances.