EFR - Reviews of a happy side (as well)

a happy side (as well)

Fri 2nd – Sat 10th August 2013

reviews

Shirley Halse

at 09:58 on 3rd Aug 2013

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A bit of post-show Googling suggests that MoCKeD HArts started with some good ideas for a piece of theatre. The show promises to draw on real memories in order 'to show that there is a happy side (as well)' and as an audience member you’re invited to submit your own nostalgic gems before it all kicks off. They even dabble with some audio/visual elements, which prove that these stories are in fact the real deal: 100% genuine.

However, the problem seems to arise from the fact that there are just so many of these memories that they seem to crush the plot beneath their sheer weight. Anna may have lost the power of speech due to her grief, but the plan seems to be to chat her into talking. The sense of being disconnected and confused by the plethora of mini experiences is added to by the constant fluidity of the characters. The actors opted for equality at the expense of comprehensibility, choosing to switch all the characters between them. This was a tremendous struggle to keep track of, although I’m still not 100% sure if there was a track to keep at all – admittedly, it’s not easy to make so many disparate stories fit seamlessly together.

The constant exchange of characters was not an entire negative - it gave the actors a chance to display their theatrical versatility. All four presented a variety of characters convincingly; a young child at a sleepover, a jovial and loving father, and pregnant mother being some of the most memorable. However, I still have very little clue as to who the characters were, apart from perhaps a handful who appeared to be a loosely recurring family. And of course the writer (whoever it was always held a notepad).

One point I felt they were trying to convey was that ‘memories are integral building blocks of who and how we are’; sadly this idea didn’t follow through into well-developed and grounded characters. Instead, it was just a re-enactment of a variety of people and recollections, some of which were funny but few of which endured long enough to begin to care about.

The championing of the ordinary is a noble task, but it is also a hard one. This show struggled with such an overdose of speaking and memories and character-swapping that my immediate reaction was confusion. More than twelve hours later I still haven’t really worked out what exactly was going on.

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Florence Strickland

at 09:58 on 3rd Aug 2013

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MoCKeD HArts productions staged the idea of memories being able to construct who we are. Indeed it was the memories themselves, jumbled together, that were the foundation for the structure of this play. Despite the thoughts that the production sparked, the way in which they were put together unfortunately did not match up. The mess of our minds was being conveyed, yet a more coherent structure was needed to fully demonstrate this original, and interesting, concept.

Liane Grant, also directing the show, displayed the most prowess in the constant change from character to character. Her acting was more naturalised than some of the impersonations demonstrated bythe other actors. However, Molly Earles, Dodona White and Kalea Williams did demonstrate moments of individual promise. In the confusion of the play’s structure, flashes of talent were lost to the next memory being discovered. Many moments seemed incomplete so individual scenes were not fully executed. One idea simply fell into another. There were only glimpses of the meaning of so many memories in their relation to the overall plot. The use of audience participation – we were asked to submit our own memories - only seemed to confuse the play further. On-the-spot improvisation was the last thing the actors needed in the whirling dervish they were already involved in.

The set complimented the personal premise of the play. White kites were stitched onto the black backdrop. A visual montage of the memories being described was projected onto it. Crates with various objects that could be of sentimental value were dotted around. Features of the production like these presented the evident care that motivated the cast and production team. Perhaps rather than trying to bring in as much as possible an argument could be made for drawing out the most significant memories and allowing them more space to breathe.

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