Review: CATS, SELFIES AND THE SCATTERED MIND OF THE INCURABLE DREAMER (The Space) ★★
When going to review Cats, Selfies and the Scattered Mind of the Incurable Dreamer I was first struck by the unorthodox venue. Formerly a church to God, The Space is now a church to the arts – a humble and intimate theatre space. Set in the ‘Full Moon café’, the piece was a verbal collage comprised entirely of different articles, blogs and comments found on the internet, meaning that all of the dialogue came from already existing conversations and opinions that are online; all spoken between three actors. Advertised as physical theatre meets social media I must confess that the piece disappointed in its infrequent use of sophisticated movement.
The performance space was small and clinical, all the set was blemishlessly white and sat at the back of the stage was Owen Clark dressed all in white besides his black socks. Littering the stage were strips of newspaper that symbolised the scraps of information we get from the media and internet. Overall however, it had a cheap and tacky look to it. I found it ironic that part of the piece’s intention was to highlight the isolation caused by the internet and that the audience members all chose to sit with at least one seat space between them and the person with whom they did not arrive.
When the piece began it was oddly electrifying and intense at times. Charlotte Higgins’ odd behaviour immediately made an impression and it was clear that Simon Christian was the weakest performer of the three. He started well but as the piece progressed his acting became cliched and subpar. However, the balance of connection between the actors and disconnection between the characters was memsmerising and unsettling, with Clark’s facial expressions being both humorous and haunting. Throughout the piece string was gradually wound around the set to create a web that later entangled Christian’s character; a clumsy metaphor for how people nowadays are lost in the world wide web. At times it generated a few weak laughs from the audience and managed to hold people’s attention but too often I found myself losing interest. Despite the amount of time put into the performance it failed to impress as a whole. It came across as slightly under rehearsed and more akin to a devised school performance than professional.
It earned a smattering of a applause from the uncertain audience that I think was out of courtesy rather than genuine appreciation. Perhaps there was some profound message beyond the one that I perceived, I could not say. Overall a wonderful concept that was unfortunately inadequate. If it had been rehearsed more and executed slightly differently it had the potential to be a brilliant piece.
Reviewed by Thomas Barrett