Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2014

Neighbourhood Forum

21CC - Gary Gardiner and Murray Wason

Genre: Debate

Venue: The Pearce Institute


Low Down

We are welcomed into a meeting which is based upon ourselves and experiences of bureaucracy whilst taken through various actions by our Chair we share, discuss, view and participate in a promise to continue to resist the bureaucratic nightmare that is, all around us.


There is a room within the Institute where there are a number of chairs spaced out in mini cabaret style without tables. We are invited to sit where we wish by our hosts Gary and Murray at the door; once seated we are invited to open envelopes that are sitting on the floor. Between instructions from our two communal chairs for the evening – that same Gary and Murray – and the written ones in the envelopes we are guided to revealing our own experiences with bureaucracy, see a visual dance where we become involved in it about frustration – a by-product of bureaucracy, watch a film about the Pearce Institute and end by hearing the minutes and promises we have made individually in our groups from our meeting.

My initial response was trepidation because these things can end up being slightly underdone as people react negatively to having the spotlight placed upon them. I have to say that even with some younger members of the audience the gentle and comforting methods used saw people opening up and sharing without concern. It set the agenda for the rest of the evening as we were guided through our revelations – in small groups and out front to the rest of our own audience. Ending up as I did with the microphone at one point was nonetheless a little disconcerting but it added to the communal nature of the event and participative feeling that we were as one and more than just an audience.

When Gary and Murray took us to their dance we tried to become a seamless audience in the round. The interlude was measured well and whilst it had the opportunity of becoming self-indulgent it avoided that trap. It did mean that apart form the structure we got to see our performers perform. We were then asked to return to our places and mini groups so that we could make promises in dealing with bureaucracy that Gary and Murray would then read out for us. One of our number did read “the minutes” before we got there.

This was an experience more than a performance but still entertained. The issue in terms of risk was always that an audience may not be willing to become as involved as requested. Gary and Murray were blessed with a good group and it went as well as they could expect. Prior to the event we had been asked to give our experiences of bureaucracy through a survey monkey and it was something which I had failed to do. I did hear the experiences of others as they seemed to be used as stories between actions/instructions to illuminate the issues contained in the piece.

Using the words or stories of others could make the writing uneven but I didn’t find this. It could have ended up leaving you with a sense of being short changed because the actors were using the words and work of their audience rather than giving us something original. Except of course the concept was trying to be original but using the experiences of our audience to combine us together in an experience rather than asking people to sit back and be passive. With the movement interlude you got the opportunity that our guides they did work for their money whilst understanding the work that we had done in helping them get there.

What I did find unfortunate was that there was a lot about debt. Clearly now we are in an age where dealing with threatening letters and possible bankruptcy is commonplace but there are certainly many other examples given where we hit the walls put up to frustrate us.

The use of film that took us into the world of our venue also broke up the piece but again it was wonderful to see but I was unsure how it fit within the whole. As a communal experience it was great however.

As my final visit to Behaviour 14 it was well worth it. It remains an experience that is tucked away rather than up there a performance that shone and challenged. I think, though that this was the point. I enjoyed my evening and felt both challenged and engaged. As an experience therefore it was well worthy of the evening.