Writer: Uninvited Guests in collaboration with Lewis Gibson
Director: Paul Clarke
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
Make Better Please is not so much a piece of theatre as it is a happening: beginning with a very civilised discussion of the day’s newspapers over an enormous pot of tea, it metamorphoses into a surreal exorcism that involves the audience at every stage and literally takes you out of the theatre and into the world outside.
Innovative and interactive, the piece is constructed from headline and story selections that the audience pick at the outset in small groups. Some of these are then explored in further detail as the cast take on the personae of politicians and other newsworthy figures, while other of the team write on walls and create soundscapes outside the main playing area. Despite it’s inventive staging, so many ideas are crammed into the production – some more successfully than others – that a few feel extraneous, and it takes a little too long for the piece to move on and let the ‘making better’ begin. There are sections that seem to be set pieces, rather than those which feel totally organic which is when it is at its best, but on the whole the company make excellent use of the stories provided to them by the initial newspaper sift and weave them into the latter moments.
The participatory element is both a bet and a boon, being of course dependant on a compliant and receptive audience. Luckily this one was both, and the personal touch added by drawing on our convictions and feelings was at times touching. My own feeling was that the piece would be stronger for finishing after the neo-punk ritual near the end, however there were some nice touches afterwards that brought the piece full circle, so that is likely an individual preference. The performers were strong and committed throughout, with Richard Dufty giving an impressive turn as the embodiment of ‘bad news’ and Lewis Gibson and Jessica Huffmann providing counterpoint. Both thought-proving and timely, this is certainly an enjoyable and different night at the theatre.