There is a particular pose sometimes adopted by people listening to classical music. It is a still, studious and appreciative posture that attempts to denote the the music is doing the listener's soul a lot of good. I was reminded of this as I stole glances at Mark Ravenhill and Martin Crimp as they sat either side of Tim Crouch during this play. It was as if these playwrights (and there appeared to be other writers in the room) were avoiding either over or under reaction to the play. Perhaps they were just aware of the scrutiny.
The play consists of four actors (an “audience member”, two “actors” and “writer/director Tim Crouch”) seated among the audience who were in two raked banks of seats facing each-other. The play starts when “audience member” engages the real audience in talk about the experience of being in a theatre audience, singling out individuals trying to get them to share something. There a deal of truth in what he said about being in an audience and going to the theatre regularly especially the Royal Court where he marvelled at the sex, violence and bodily functions that he has seen there. I thought one note didn't quite ring true when he tried to depict an audience as a friendly place – for the most part I tend to find (after a lot of theatre going) that you begin to dislike audiences in general and hate every member of them in particular. Probably just me being anti-social.
After a while the “audience member” the “actors” and the “director” begin to describe a their involvement in a previous, shocking production and how the preparation and playing of an imagined world affected their lives.
I got the impression that the audience were expected to react more to this play. Everyone seemed engaged and attentive but unwilling to draw too much attention to themselves (when the “audience member” asked if there were any Friend subscribers of the theatre in the audience, I know of at least one Friend of 20 years standing who remained silent and tried to be invisible). The actors described shocking things (or things intended to be shocking) but to an audience used to the depiction of a wide range of sex, violence and bodily functions at the theatre. Maybe we were too jaded to do anything other than sit studiously and attentively trying to look as if what we were seeing and hearing was doing us some good.