Writer: Ivan Hansen, Katrina Bugaj, Hagen Findsen
Director: Katrina Bugaj
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
Mike Tweddle’s programming of the Tobacco Factory Theatre feels like it is beginning to come into effect with Posthumous Works. His background includes a strong focus on bringing international theatre to our shores and so here, we get, Danish company Out Of Balanz coming to Bristol for the first time with a show previously seen at both the Edinburgh fringe and BE Festivals. It is a positive thing for our theatres to look outside our borders to bring in work from outside of the usual big hitters, unfortunately, Posthumous Work doesn’t make the impact that you would hope. At the end of this short show the overwhelming feeling is of ‘so what?’.
Posthumous Work is a gentle piece about memories, first loves and final goodbyes, topics that affect us all and have been the structures that have held the pillars of theatre up for hundreds of years. So why does it all feel so inconsequential after 45 minutes? Well mainly because the story is less incident-packed than anyone in the audience’s experiences of it.
Ivan falls in love with a classmate but is too shy to talk to her, they almost connect at a school disco just before Christmas but come, New Year she has moved away. Ivan listens to grammar phone recordings with his Granddad who tells him about his first meeting with his Grandmother and then one day passes away in his mid-nineties. Admittedly he does lose his bike but even that doesn’t progress much beyond him asking a few people if they have seen it. It feels like a story of the most sheltered kind of person. Theatre has a duty to tell all kinds of stories but this is banal in all respects. There is a reason why the Greeks wrote about the Gods and Shakespeare about Kings and Queens and civil war. Narrative isn’t the be all and end all, but it still should mean a lot.
Even if there isn’t much of a tale to tell, it is still put across charmingly by Ivan Hansen, a middle-aged Dane with a pudding bowl bald-patch that marks him out as a nutty professor type. He is an eccentric loveable narrator, shaking each audience members hand as they enter, finishing the show by offering an audience a drink. Its audience interaction can feel forced, asking each audience member to join hands has always felt awkward unless it’s Jamie Wood’s O’No and the audience volunteers who waltzed with him as he looked back in time, while a touching idea in theory, only partially works as it’s clear they weren’t prepped enough.
Maybe in the past six years since this show was first seen in Edinburgh the one person show has changed a bit. Nowadays these personal one person shows saturate the market and a work this small and simple gets rather lost in the shuffle.
runs until 15 April 2017 | Image: Alex Brenner