Monday, 29 September 2008

Total Theatre - Review

The title of this performance hints at the self-reflective complexities about to take place. The audience being offered a drink by the performers on their way into the auditorium confirmed it, and Michael Pinchbeck's acknowledgment of actors and audience made it a certainty. This is a show about a show of a show.

The concept is to reenact moments from the post-show party of an amateur operatic and dramatic society production of The Sound of Music from 1970 in which Pinchbeck's parents first met. Pinchbeck is joined in the performance by his parents creating a complex mix of the here and now, the then and there and times before, in between and after.

Pinchbeck plays with the notions of time and place and amateur and professional in an energetic performance in which father and son act out conceptual representations of the sixteen songs from The Sound of Music. These representations consist of both performers moving small wooden stools around the stage from one demarcated square to another, often in symmetry and in time with the song which plays in the background. Past and present frequently overlap. During the reenactment of 'Do-Re-Mi', the lyrics are swapped for the thoughts of Pinchbeck senior as he wonders whether to offer a lift home to his future wife Vivienne.

This is a complex production with many performances taking place in the same show, but complex becomes confusing as time, place, character, song and stool blur into one. For all Pinchbeck junior's ingenuity, matched by his father's energetic exuberance, the conceptualisations appear at times unhinged from any central thesis. Ultimately, perhaps this show speaks of itself too often, in too many languages to be fully understood.

Total Theatre

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