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Barnstaple Theatrefest 2015

The Fruits of Failure

Almost Human

Genre: Installation Theatre

Venue: Queens Theatre


Low Down

Almost Human’s latest performance is an inventive homage to 20th Century art movements. With the use of green-screen technology and video projection, they take the audience on a journey through the tragic life of failed performance artist and greengrocer, Lesley Roscoe.


Almost Human are a company who use technology in unexpected ways to bring their performances to life. The Fruits of Failure is no exception. When the lights come up, we are greeted with an intriguiging contraption. Various lights and cameras, along with a large screen covered in green tissue paper are dotted about on stage. Alec Hughes is the sole live performer in this piece and acts as a narrator as well as machinery operator.

The miserable tale of Lesley Roscoe begins. We are taken from his parent’s humble bennings as Parisian bohemians through to his own bitter demise. The story is told through video projections, within which, the medium is incredibly varied: we are shown charming stop motion animations, clips from films and films Almost Human have made themselves. Hughes’ deep baritone, full of doom and despair accompanies the video material. Interspersed at different points of the narrative are Lesley’s own fictional artworks, the ‘fruit pieces’. This is where the green screen comes in. Almost Human have recreated notable works of art with fruits. here they combine this prerecorded footage with live action. With a live camera on stage, Hughes is ‘green screened’ into the prerecorded ‘fruit pieces’. It’s incredibly clever and each time different which allows them to repeat the motif without it coming boring. For example one time he eats a fruit, another time he bursts out of an Apple.

This show is chock-full of performance art references. Delightfully interwoven throughout the text are references to Dada, Situationists, Fluxus et al. You name it, Almost Human have it covered. This is great fun for performance art lovers but could perhaps be lost on those less well informed about Marina Abramavic’s oeuvre.

The show is, above all, highly amusing and some of the technological stunts are a wonder to behold, especially as they happen live. There are sound balancing and camera focussing problems. But the DIY aesthetic and home-made charm easily make up for that.