Ephemera Stains

Blackbox at The Bakehouse Theatre. 6 Sep 2012

Peter Brook in his seminal 1960s book, The Open Space, poses three questions about theatre: What function can it have? What could it explore? What are its special qualities?

Ephemara Stains is not easy theatre to pigeon hole but by the end of the four sections forming the show, it would be a totally jaded audience member that would dismiss the presentation out of hand. Without revealing too much of the audience journey, I will review this edgy concoction section by section, remembering the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

‘Godfrey’, skilfully written by twenty-three year old Lucy Campbell is performed by David Paul Jobling and Jamie Jewell. It follows a man who has been in a punch up and is looking for his girlfriend at a bus stop. A much older man arrives and the two have a life changing/threatening conversation. But who are they really? And what about the arrival of the younger man’s girlfriend (only two actors play the three parts, how can this be?) The older man, Julian, with his long white hair, huge red head-feather, clown nose, shabby clothes and cloth bag is a fabulous creation by Jobling. The younger, has a white patch over one eye and glass frames without lenses and is played wonderfully by Jewell. Two almost ‘Waiting for Godot’ characters in a bizarre triangle of personal space invasion. This piece is a quirky vocal and gestural interpretation of the text by two strong performers.

‘The Hunger Artist’ adapted from Franz Kafka’s 1922 short story ‘A Hunger Artist’ consists of a black and white film projected on a small screen that suits the intimacy of the Bakehouse venue. This retelling, directed by Kevin Bloom with photography by Janiell Landers, fits the overall theme of the evening, showing us that life is short and our experience of it is imprinted by the people we come in contact with (for better or for worse); a point made impressively clear in the final section of the four part presentation.

‘The Clegg Family’, a short film directed by Jill Moonie with photography by Pauline Chan, presents an absurdly dysfunctional family caught up in a degrading moment of interpersonal conflict. A macabre three hander performed by Holly Campbell, David Paul Jobling and Craig Pearce. The film is presented in an almost rough cut format, but nonetheless, surprisingly effective.

‘Filling In’, written and directed by David Paul Jobling, is performed by Jobling and Jamie Jewell. The action centres on the supposed working up of an audition piece which, in reality, presents the audience with a victim statement outlining the terrible stain and loss of potential of a man (in real life, David Paul Jobling) who as a thirteen year old was caught up in a web of sexual abuse. It is a very moving and extremely personal rendition of a true life experience explored using the unique elements that only live theatre can present.

Not your average night at the theatre. I suspect that none of the Blackbox productions will be ordinary or deadly.

Martin Christmas

When: 4 to 15 September
Where: Bakehouse Theatre