Playback As Soon As You Hear | 10 Days in Dublin
Star Rating: 2.5/5
Review by: Lauren O'Toole
Title: Playback As Soon As You Hear
Venue: The Exchange, Temple Bar
Cast: Dan Colley, Cathal McGuire, Nora Kelly Lester, Kelly Marie Reynolds, Claire O’Reilly, Aoife Leonard.
Playback theatre is an innovative combination of storytelling and performance that, when it works, can provide the audience and theatre makers with a very powerful shared experience. Although the concept is quite simple, playback is a real treat for anyone who likes their theatre highly personal with a healthy dose of interactivity and spontaneity. Playback As Soon As You Hear is one of only two companies regularly performing this form of theatre in Dublin and, while they migrated to The Exchange for the 10 Days in Dublin festival, they can more often be found in Anseo where they perform bi-monthly.
The formula is as follows: MC Dan Colley introduces the players and oversees proceedings, coaxing stories out of the audience with a genial unintimidating manner and providing an amusing commentary throughout. It is when audience members have volunteered stories from their daily lives that the performance begins in earnest with the cast reconstructing all manner of incidents, drawing on their individual skill and strength as an ensemble to do so. However, while the spontaneous and uncertain nature of this type of performance is what can really make it, in can also be its downfall as the cast, regardless of talent, are highly reliant on the material that is thrown at them by the audience.
On the evening that I was in attendance, the bulk of experiences and stories shared were those of an extremely young, naïve and privileged majority and thus not fantastic fodder. The company dealt with the relentless stories of teenage drinking and “harrowing” encounters with the lower classes valiantly but in general it all fell a little flat and went on for much longer than necessary as the younger members of the audience got somewhat carried away during their time on the platform. The stories which were genuinely funny and intriguing, although quite possibly planted, were a very welcome relief, rescuing the show from veering into monotony and giving the company something a little meatier to play with.
While each of the players had their own admirable personal style of performance and all were considerate and intuitive as an improv ensemble, there were stand out turns from Aoife Leonard and Nora Kelly Lester, both of whom were a touch more accomplished in delivering one-liners and thinking on their feet. Although the Exchange performance certainly wasn’t mind-blowing, I left Playback As Soon As You Hear intrigued as to what could have been in different circumstances. This is a formula with great potential but alas, on this occasion, was missing some of the vital ingredients necessary for it to be truly entertaining.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Tuesday 17th July 2012 | Theatre
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