Failure Studies – Camden Fringe, Etcetera Theatre

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Marco Biasioli

Director: Liam Grogan

It would be wrong if Failure Studies were a success. In a world that is obsessed with success failure could be taken as a political stance. Our belief in success could be humanity’s biggest failure. Precarious Theatre’s show playing at the Camden Fringe occasionally interrogates these ideas. If only the chicken weren’t’ there.

Marc and a woman only known as Babe are editors of the Journal of Failure Studies, which features submissions discussing such matters as how, after a shower, too many people try to dry themselves with wet towels. The pair is planning a special issue on people who lock themselves out of their flat. This is funny stuff, and if the whole play were based on this publication than Precarious Theatre would have a hit on their hands.

There is another member of the team, and that is intern George who has to pretend that he is a chicken for the whole of the working day. For a few short minutes actor Luke Richards is rewarded with audience laughs for his impression of the hen, either scraping around in the dirt or forcing out an egg. But the joke quickly wears thin and his constant pecking and squawking is an annoying distraction. We want to return to the journal.

The editors come up with a moneymaking plan. To advertise an imaginary job could bring in plenty of dough if they charged an admin fee for each application. It’s another great premise but the story turns to Richards’ chicken again, who may or may not want his liberty.

The presentation of the meaninglessness of work in Marco Biasioli’s play is similar to that in Try Harder, currently playing at the Omnibus Theatre, but here at the Etcetera Theatre the idea of failure, despite the play’s title, remains unsatisfyingly underdeveloped. As Marc and Babe, David Allen and Francesca Maria Izzo give strong performances but one half of Izzo’s poetic monologue seems to be from another play altogether while the rousing other half feels like the final act.

There is great potential here, but does anyone want to see a grown man pretending that he’s a chicken for 45 minutes of an hour-long show?  The theatre was full, so perhaps.

Runs until 17 August 2022

The Camden Fringe runs from 1-28 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Ditch the chicken

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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