Fri 4th – Sun 27th August 2017


Charlotte Lock

at 09:50 on 7th Aug 2017



‘Beadledom: Alpha’ is the latest project of Familia de la Noche, a company practiced at creating shows featuring clowns and puppetry, which play central roles in this production. The show is part of a set of two complementary pieces, which are ‘designed to be viewed individually but also jigsaw together’, the sister show being, 'Beadledom: Omega.' The performance is non-verbal and physically expressive, with the production set in Beadledom, the universe’s control centre, featuring Malik Ibheis as Max, the sole on-shift employee with one task – to create life.

This piece begins in a wonderfully understated manner, with meticulous attention to detail, establishing Max as an individual with a somewhat repetitive and monotonous job. Ibheis cleverly explores the typical routine of the character, with the mundane activities in the opening of the show providing a distinct contrast to the frenzied and unrefined behaviour that follows. This is supported as upon the opening of the show, the soundtrack immediately relaxes the audience, and creates the atmosphere of a lazy Sunday afternoon with percussion and the gentle twang of a guitar; ensuring the introduction of Max to be easy and familiar. Following this, however, the production takes on a great number of different elements, exploring relationships and the difficulty of attachment, as well as what fulfils life, in an overly complex manner. The main section of the performance is somewhat confusing, as the abstract nature of the storyline must be understood without a vocal explanation. In this way, body language perhaps proves insufficient, as tackling such an unusual topic requires context which unfortunately was not provided.

Rarely in a performance are the background workings revealed, yet ‘Beadledom: Alpha’ manage to artistically reveal the inner logistics of the show. Whilst perhaps hindering the imagination of the audience in their absorption into this piece this arguably adds a sense of appreciation for the innovative thought put into the show. The simplicity of a torch and a disco ball transported the audience into the wider universe, with the rudimentary techniques proving remarkably effective and contributing a certain charm to the production.

The transformation of Max from a creature of habit to an individual with a desire for life and a connection with another, takes place as the HQ for the universe faces a system failure, with a particular life Max has created requiring his support. Comedy takes a central role in the performance at this point, as the dishevelled appearance of the main character serves as evidence of his changing attitude. This being said, the performance was effective, if at times confusing, as it explored different methods of theatre and occasionally attempted to tackle too much. Despite this, the show was undoubtedly engrossing and the underlying moral of the piece both poignant and touching; conveyed in the realisation that life is ultimately a jumbled mess that cannot always be neatly ordered. This was delightfully summed up in Max's final action as he joyously throws a previously organised stack of papers into a chaotic mess on the floor, recognising life is imperfectly perfect.


Kiya Evans

at 11:01 on 7th Aug 2017



‘Alpha’, the first part of the Beadledom double bill presented by Familia De La Noche, follows the clown-faced office worker Max (Edward Cartwright), as he battles the eccentric and malfunctioning system at work in the ‘HQ of the universe’, where he creates life. Starting off with the seemingly routine and mundane, the ‘Alpha’ instalment non-verbally examines how Max deals with this malfunction. It demonstrates that the creation of life is anything but boring, and is one of the most highly original productions I’ve seen at the Fringe so far.

In accordance with Familia De La Noche’s style, clowning is fused together with original composition by Speech Maloney and light puppetry which is incredibly visually impressive. Although I was skeptical of how these three elements would complement one another and avoid becoming confused or divergent, Familia De La Noche prove themselves to be masters of visual and audio arts. It is not difficult to quickly acclimatise to the lack of speech, to the point where it is quite frankly hardly noticeable, largely due to the combination of the original music and Cartwright’s clowning.

Despite this lack of speech or dialogue, the audience was fully engaged in Max’s behaviour, something which I believe was actually a result of the lack of speech, with all tonal shifts and indicators provided by Cartwright’s facial and physical characterisation of Max, and any lighting/audio cues given. As a result, there was a pervasive feeling of unpredictability despite the repetitive sequences of movement.

As well as the varying art forms present within this piece, it also seems to have a style which amalgamates realism/familiarity with extraordinarily strange situations and systems. Whilst this style does not seem out of place given the mediums through which it is portrayed, the storyline becomes very confused. Although I liked and appreciated what I was seeing on stage, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, or why it was happening. Both the storyline and setting were too ambitious for the methods which Familia De La Noche deploy - both elements became confused and provided no clear guidance for the audience, meaning it was often at times difficult to keep track of what was happening on a basic level.

The set itself is very original, with the wall featuring various projection panels. There are faint glimmers into the continuation of the story, and the beginning of Deborah’s ‘Omega-Shift’, especially noticeable in the setup of the two desks, with Max’s being extremely neat and orderly, in contrast to the mess of the desk opposite. It would be intriguing to see the ‘Omega’ instalment of this series, which has undoubtedly been crafted by extremely talented people.

Beadledom: Alpha is a show which requires an open mind and willingness to accept that you will not understand everything it is trying to do. Although the storyline can be confusing, that does not take away from the talent and skill which can be found elsewhere in the piece.


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