Devisors: Barrel Organ
Director: Ali Pidsley
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
They must be putting something in the snakebite up in Warwick. In the past year, there have been three pieces from different graduating companies from the university, all pieces buzzing with ideas on form and content that scramble around the brain for days afterwards. Influences are close to the surface, a little too close truth be told, it can be easy to get distracted ticking off items from a mental checklist of where you have seen things before.
Some People Talk About Violence does not go where expected. At no point during its hour do any of the performers talk about the physical act of it; no beatings, shootings, rape, or nuclear Armageddon’s here. The violence is different, it bubbles underneath, a violence of temperament, of clinical depression and the pain of finding yourself. Barrel Organ as a collective have scratched deep beyond the surface of their title and discovered something collectively deeper and more pertinent than a glib first look at its title suggests. This is the reality of violence for these young people in a post-Austerity world, without the security of the previous generation and collapsing in on itself as a result.
There is a plot of sort, a ‘Girl’ is arrested for breaking into a house and calls her ‘Brother’ who is living in Thailand with his boyfriend who in turn calls his ‘Mum’ and agrees to come home. There is also a ‘Narrator’ who glues the fractured first person monologues together. Moments of incident come through of a night watching ‘the shit’ Big Bang Theory and not meeting the friends who are waiting for you in the pub. Of siblings creating an alternative world which is better than their own. Of disconnect between people; mother and daughter, lover and lover.
The ideas simmer along nicely and have originality of thought about them but the form can sometimes feel derivative. The four performers don’t know what role and what sections they will be performing until the beginning of the performance when each is handed an envelope with their characters on (though on the first night of the tour each of the roles assigned felt the most natural fit for the performer). Interspersed within the monologues there is games that would feel familiar to anyone who holds a drama degree, improvisation work from Keith Johnstone that are captivating to watch in the moment but don’t seem to add much looking back the next morning. The Secret Company show 5 looms large within moments without the company ever pushing themselves to the barmy extremes of that world, while Forced Entertainment’s Quizoola also hovers. It’s more than a tip of the hat they’ve doffed and it is frustrating as from the content it is clear there are original voices here.
Whether the ‘Warwick Three’ – Barrel Organ, Walrus or Breach – will go forward and create legacies like Complicite or Forced Entertainment is up in the air but early suggestions suggest, if they can find their own identity in form as much as content, we have some of the most exciting young companies since those 80s heydays. Some big plans were conceived in Warwick’s SU, let’s see in the years ahead just how much come to fruition.
Runs until 9 November 2016 | Image: Contributed