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BRIGHTON FRINGE: The Stroop Effect – The Warren Studio 3

Devised by the Company
Reviewer: Sophie Huggins

The Stroop Effect, by definition, is when the reaction time of a task is proven to be interfered with and, in this show, performed by third year acting students from the University Centre Colchester, there is a supposed connection between this famous experiment and their devised show.

Beginning with a continuous ticking clock (an unexciting and lengthy start), this is the first of many jarring sound effects within the piece and follows into a collage of insomnia’s impacts, its narrative seemingly unclear. Despite asking its audience to “brace” themselves “for an epic physical theatre piece”, no such preparation is needed as sadly the movement is heavy-footed, unfocused and ungrounded. There are moments of synchronisation and a delightful dip into disco style 70s dancing, but an attention to detail is lacking; sightlines are different, the gestures could benefit from tension and suspension and it feels like a cast of five loudly throwing themselves around a stage.

The movement is accompanied by random and cluttered verbatim tracks describing the experience of insomnia. Occasionally the cast makes noise or even speak and at other times are silent, confusing the aural convention. There are several ‘scenes’ of erratic laughter, heavy stamping and odd movements including finger licking; all confusing and uninteresting.

The costumes of tie-dye tops and coloured shorts are fitting, although it is unclear why not all members of the group are wearing tights. The lights are suitably bold, colourful and vibrant, but tend to predictably change a few too many times, when perhaps it is more interesting to keep the audience surprised. The props consist of some pillows and a sheet, of which there are some lovely moments in its animation – it is only a shame it is manipulated by a bored, disinterested ensemble. With a choral identity completely missing, who is telling the story and why is unknown?

Overall this show lacks a relevance and a purpose  – what does this piece tell the world that isn’t already obvious? It falls short of creatively intelligent ideas as the negativities insomnia sufferers face is made obvious in the first few minutes, yet are over explained and exposition often reigns.

While it is commendable to make a start in theatre-making at Brighton Fringe, a focus on interesting narrative, clearer conventions and professional execution should be made in order to go further in future devising.

Reviewed on 30 May 2017 | Image: Contributed  |  @brightonfringe

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Confusing and uninteresting

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