EFR - Reviews of Caught!

Caught!

Sun 18th – Mon 26th August 2013

reviews

James Bell

at 14:04 on 20th Aug 2013

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‘Caught!’, the latest offering from Hepzibah Theatre Company, is an unexpectedly arresting fusion of “physical theatre, spoken word and dubstep.” From the moment the audience entered the tiny performance space deep in the C Nova venue, the dreamy music and slowly flickering visual images transported us to a calmer and quieter space where the technical skill of the performers was allowed to shine.

The real selling point of this production is the dance, which is used to evoke the desires and regrets of a mother and daughter played with poise and elegance by Ruth Horsfall and Jane McLeod. Both had obviously connected emotionally with their subject matter and, what is more, could transmit this to the audience which made the performance a delight to watch. The plot, which follows a young woman who blows her inheritance against the better judgement of her mother, is strong enough keep the audience entertained without taking away from the abstract side of the work.

It touches on several themes that I imagine will resonate with the audience: the safety of home, the fact that our fates are intimately intertwined with the whims of other people, and the ways in which regret and guilt can be all-consuming. The whole thing was slick and tightly executed with well integrated (if slightly dull) audiovisual material that never felt clunky. It confidently flitted between humour, poignancy, bathos and the commonplace. In essence, a good premise well executed.

I do have some reservations, however. There was the odd section of dodgy mime, and the production was unable to sustain the same level of mesmeric otherworldliness and poetic inspiration all the way through; some sections towards the end began to feel a little clichéd and overdone. A couple of slightly heavy-handed attempts to make the performance topical (references to the economic slump, for example) took away from the ethereal and timeless beauty that made the production such a success elsewhere.

All in all, this is a surprisingly good performance that provided some much needed calm away from the bustle of the Fringe.

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Lucy Wood

at 14:08 on 20th Aug 2013

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‘Caught!’ is a piece which could genuinely have been very exciting. It’s a heavy blend of spoken word, dance, technology and music. It should be the kind of thing that the Fringe does best: a young, dynamic and ambitious company with something to say and a new way of saying it.

What they did have to say was, unfortunately, just a little bit dull.

The message which they seemed so keen to drive home was a slightly meandering collection of niceties and clichés. Try to be nice to one another. Try not to hate yourself too much. Try not to fall asleep while we’re still on stage. Not even if you do sandwich your moral message between ear-splittingly loud dubstep do these ideas seem any less tired or unimaginative.

This is not to disregard what the play did well – there were some moments which showed great promise. Ruth Horsfall and Jane McLeod were both wonderful dancers and a real pleasure to watch. They created a sense of energy and vibrancy in their dance even when the rest of the play felt stilted. While Horsfall’s dancing was a particular pleasure to watch so too was it a pleasure to watch McLeod speak. Her background as a spoken word artist quickly came to the fore and her easy delivery of the difficult lines is to be highly commended.

The dialogue in itself should be of particular interest. It was complex, poetic and wordy. This is, in itself, no bad thing. In many ways it was a relief to come to a show which didn’t mistake its audience for fools who needed to be spoon-fed, but rather challenged them so you had to race to keep up. It can be tough to appreciate that intellectual challenge, however, when the actress was forced to compete with blaring music, it was a competition which she, and the audience, ultimately lost.

However good the actresses’ performances were in an isolated way, there seemed to be a lack of cohesion between the various elements of the performance. This was particularly true of their use of projected images. Far from adding to the production, it felt, at best, like an unnecessary illustration and, at worst, patronising. This reached a particular apex when McLeod’s journey was played out with shaky Instagram-style videos of a train track, a road, a door… You get the idea.

Ultimately, all you can do is wonder what it would have been like if the piece had been even slightly as hard-hitting as it viewed itself as being. “An urban tale of radical grace?” Maybe next time try for just graceful, or just radical.

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