Before the play started, a man in front of me asked my neighbour (female and better looking) if there was a plot summary for this piece on the free cast list. I was slightly tempted to ask him, after we’d watched the play, whether he’d be able to put one together for future reference. If you want a plot, I suppose it is the comings and goings in a city square throughout a day. What that means is a large number of little vignettes, small stories (comical and tragical), familiar observations of people watching and a nice dollop of weirdness often including some fictional, historical, mythological or biblical figure. And whenever there was a lull in the proceedings one of a number of well put together young women would process across from upstage left to downstage right.
The city square was represented by sculptural, abstracted and slightly organic-looking office buildings around the three sides of the stage.
Describing the play becomes a little like trying to remember the contents of a conveyor as prizes pass in front of you – Actually I can’t remember if there was a cuddly toy, or whether it was a man dressed as a football mascot. Here are a few things that stuck in the mind:
Recurring characters such as a street cleaner (played by Mark Hadfield) who discovers the script for the play that he is in; a hiker (played by Richard Hope) who had constantly to empty sand and stones from his shoes and clothes; an annoying person (played by Jason Thorpe), possibly meant to be a small boy, a grown-up that acted like one or a representation of the spirit of annoyingness who spent his time imitating the actions of passers-by.
A business man emptying the pockets of his suit pulling out strange items until he finds a apple. One of the well put-together young women in a dress made from fragments of mirror and holding a large leaf with an eye-sized hole to cover her face. A looping line of old men, then teachers, then old soldiers made up of the same dozen or so actors. A couple sexually aroused watching a man collapse and die while the annoying man tried to imitate him. Abraham leading Isaac (who was carrying a convenient bush) across the stage, clutching a sacrificial dagger, Papageno getting mugged. A queue that almost spontaneously formed.
While I found this wordless parade highly enjoyable there was still a feeling at the back of my mind that it was all a bit insubstantial. It was like an endless supply of gourmet snacks and treats, while they take as much time and skill to prepare as a normal meal, you get the feeling that there’s a big feast that you are missing. There were so many characters and little stories that I never felt that I got to know any of them well or even at all.