Devisors: Barrel Organ
Director: Ali Pidsley
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Following their production of their debut play, Nothing, Some People Talk About Violence is Barrel Organ’s second theatre piece.
Centred around four characters – a mother, brother, sister and narrator – Some People Talk About Violence uses monologue and interactivity to explore the conventions of today’s society. Addressing themes like adolescence, family dynamics and mental illness, the actors rely on improvisation – only finding out which character they’ll be playing once they’re already on stage.
It’s an interesting concept, and has the potential to be a striking performance. Because the fourth wall with the audience is broken – through asides, interactive moments including voice recordings and word associations – the actors come across as likeable and compelling. They portray snapshots of their characters’ lives realistically and interestingly.
There is promise behind the production, and it’s an innovative method of performance. But…it’s not quite there.
At an hour long, the piece feels quite rushed. There is little character development, and it would’ve been interesting to see things explored in more depth. The plot is very unclear. While this could provide a platform for open interpretation, instead it is very difficult to follow. The breaks from monologue are a nice touch, but they don’t serve to add any texture to any bigger picture. It is confusing and – while amusing, and bemusing – doesn’t manage to convey an overall message particularly well.
The whole piece feels a little self-indulgent. At times, it feels that the writing and performance is experimental just for the sake of being so. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it does mean that any wider significance is a little lost.
That being said, Some People Talk About Violence touches on some interesting ideas. And, running in Porter’s cosy The Other Room pub theatre, is an interesting and different way to spend an hour.
Runs until 25 November 2016 | Image: Contributed