Devised by Wilderbeast
Director: Patrick Bate & Thomas Davies
Musical Director: Dominic Beddard Coll & Nell O’Hara
Design: Chris Owen & Lydia Robertshaw
Lighting: Oscar Adams
Reviewer: Leah Tozer
Something is lurking in the dark: your deepest fear, your demons, your darkest moments… what frightens you the most? Is it monsters? Or is it the monotony of your early twenties? Wilderbeast’s monstrously entertaining and wildly imaginative In the Light Everything is Brighter illuminates the nightmare of monotony in witty montages and monstrous images and boldly enlightens and engages with the anxieties of a new generation.
Elliot is 22. Work is dull, mates are moving away, and motivation – even to load the dishwasher with the mountain of mugs he leaves in his room – is low. Life is, literally, a drag, and Wilderbeast uses this to grating effect. There are moments in the performance that play out in real time, as when Oscar Adams’s wonderfully weary Elliot and workmate Liz eat sandwiches in silence for five minutes: it’s wearisome and it’s weird, but it works. With real-time grinding against monstrous stylism from monster and movement director Toby Pritchard and absurdist breakdowns in supermarkets, it’s muddled but brilliantly disturbing.
Formed through Bristol Old Vic’s programme for young theatre-makers, Wilderbeast is a collaborative and versatile collective. The actors all double as creatives, from directors to designers to dramaturgs – with Oscar Adams’s blinding and blood-red lighting and Chris Owen’s wallpaper backdrops that disguise a nightmare beneath them brilliantly imaginative – as well as delivering a cast of individual oddball characters.
The performance also boasts a four-piece band playing ambient music as part of the ensemble that accompanies the blackouts and cabaret crooning from Thomas Davies, whose offbeat refrains – “it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine, Elliot is doing fine” – echo Elliot’s creeping fears. It’s an impressive company, and although the narrative could be tighter and the transitions less timely, they’ve created a monster that captures, voices, and plays on that growingly universal anxiety: that all is, in fact, not fine.
In the Light Everything is Brighter is enlightening and entertaining, and a blindingly good beginning for Wilderbeast.
Runs until Saturday 21 July 2018 | Image: Contributed