EFR - Reviews of Repertory Theatre

Repertory Theatre

Wed 21st – Mon 26th August 2013

reviews

Imogen O'Sullivan

at 20:19 on 22nd Aug 2013

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As ‘Repertory Theatre’ starts, and Erez Drigues and Iftach Ophir manage to hold their audience chuckling without even needing to speak a line, the tone is set for a remarkable piece of theatre that is both phenomenally clever and ridiculously fun .

The pair have an instinctive rapport, and their razor-sharp reactions eke every possible drop of humour out of a challenging overlapping script. The dialogue is deliberately repetitive but the wit of Drigues and Ophir seems to increase with every repetition; their delivery is impeccable.

Both actors showcase intense physical and vocal commitment to their roles - much to the detriment of the first four rows - indulging in stretching their voice-boxes to the limit of every bizarre screech, and contorting their faces with the cartoon brilliance of a silent movie. Drigues’ bizarre ticks flesh out his character as a quirky artistic director, but are also revealed to have a deeper significance in a twist that really is a work of genius.

Ophir is visibly immersed in each character he portrays, first embodying the nuanced physical mannerisms of a budding script-writer with an endearing appeal, and then exuding eccentricity in his second incarnation – both roles polar opposites, displaying Ophir’s considerable talent for character comedy. The real magic of the piece comes from the interactions between Drigues and Ophir – a perfect double-act, they play off each other so well that there is a real and present danger of corpsing on stage, but one the audience would readily forgive.

‘Repertory Theatre’ is literally unbelievably clever at points. Without ruining the twist, the two halves of the show display such an ingenious exploration of a theatrical theme that I cannot imagine how they came up with it. Their use of set and lighting shows an impressive eye for detail (keep an eye on the mug) and I particularly enjoyed the discussion of "building a fourth wall" for an ex-theatre. There were a plethora of nods to the Fringe, including the terrible accident that befell one group of audience members in 2013 - all universally received with joy by the audience – somehow Drigues and Ophir manage to pull off meta-theatre with charm, rather than veering into the smug and obnoxious.

This show is impeccable and relentlessly witty, they deserve a sell-out Fringe. If you haven’t had the chance to see them yet, make sure you make the time for a piece that is bizarre and ridiculous but truly and utterly brilliant. I’ll leave you with this warning - if you want to sit at the front, do bring an umbrella.

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Natasha Hyman

at 21:40 on 22nd Aug 2013

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This production is one of the most intelligent and funny pieces of new writing I have ever had the pleasure to see; by this I mean both intelligent and simultaneously funny, as opposed to witty humour. Without ruining the concept for anyone, the show is divided into two halves. We begin with a young writer (Iftach Ophir) asking the artistic director of a repertory theatre to put on his play. Gradually, the boundaries between stage and reality collapse, as we explore the subconscious of each character. Then, in a monumental twist, the second half forces us to completely reassess our understanding of the first half.

The script is incredibly engaging; the dialogue bounces back and forth between Erez Drigues and Iftach Ophir like flying arrows - the pair hit bullseye every time. Every few minutes we stall, like a stuck record; the two actors repeat themselves, hiking up self-awareness to astounding comic effect. One particular stand-out moment was where Drigues replayed his shocked reaction multiple times; each moment we approach naturalism, we are transported once more into an on-stage rehearsal.

The Hamlet motif, introduced early on, is subtly woven into the fabric of the play until we become aware that it is in fact the driving force. Little clues; the “I *heart* mum” mug, recurring mentions of mother/father/uncle relationships, and the title of the play-within-the-play “behind every life is death” drawing on “to be or not to be”, are all brought up, dismissed, then brought up again, until we can’t refuse their significance.

This really is metatheatre at its best, even down to the details of the set. Drigues’ bright red shirt matches the abnormally bright plums on the desk - creating obvious staging to perfection. The suspended empty frames are not indications of paintings, as, due to some clever direction, we realise they are in fact what they are - empty frames. These are all touches which add to the overall impact of the piece.

The energy between Drigues and Ophir is palpable. They set up a clear power dynamic from the start. In the first half, Ophir is on our side - we share his winces of distress as Drigues repeatedly disorientates him. Then, in the second half, we witness these performances in a keen power reversal.

At first, Drigues appears as a flamboyant theatrical type, however, his mannerisms soon become exaggerated to the extent that he becomes an actor playing an actor - perhaps a character in Ophir’s play. Both actors tap into eccentricity without ever becoming grating.

This is simply a fantastic piece of theatre; a brilliant script and hugely talented actors. I didn’t want this to end, and if I could, I’d give it six stars.

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