REVIEW: Conspiracy (New Diorama Theatre) ★★★

Conspiracy from Barrel Organ gets a London premiere at the New Diorama Theatre, following a sold out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and winning the Untapped Award.

As the audience enters the room to take their seats, the cast are sitting at a table commenting on their observations; how many people are wearing glasses, whether the cups contain coffee, tea or wine, how many blue shirts are being worn this evening.

When the show begins, it’s not clear why the three people before us are here; they have something to discuss but the context is not clear. Rose, Azan and Shannon introduce themselves and then begin to describe a scene. They discuss what they see and what they assume, what they know to be true and what they infer. They sometimes disagree. Eventually we see the picture they are describing unveiled behind them; it’s a familiar image. All three are agreed that something’s not right with the picture but exactly what’s wrong and why is up for debate.

They all believe they have stumbled upon something big, a cover up, a conspiracy. They’ve done their research and brought their evidence. Each suggestion and discovery leads to more questions and assumptions as well as inconvenient thoughts – are they on to something or is it all too far fetched? As they delve deeper, their world views are challenged and their trust of each other is brought into question.

Conspiracy is performed by Rose Wardlaw, Azan Ahmed and Shannon Hayes. They work well together and their frustrations with each other feel real, as does their desire to be right and to have ‘cracked’ the mystery. Wardlaw at one point takes herself off stage and it feels like she just needs some time out as Ahmed and Hayes fall deeper into their theories. The show works itself into a frenzy of more and more extreme suggestions until it finally bursts into a quieter moment to end and leave you wondering if all those conspiracy theorists might just be on to something.

This is a fast paced show that requires the audience to sit up and listen (and probably head home to do some internet research). If you’re not paying attention then you’ll soon lose track of the tale.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans


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