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A CurtainUp London Review
The pared-down play is matched by an unembellished, simple design. In an arctic white set with the sounds of waves and whispers, four actors sit down at a long, plain white table. In the following two acts, the only changes to the scenery are the shifting position of the table and coloured shades of light. Three actors begin by discussing a woman's premature marriage. However, it soon becomes clear that they are not describing, but actually formulating, the circumstances of this person's life. Poised somewhere between scriptwriters and omniscient deities, they announce faltering, unemotional proclamations of an inevitable fate for these unseen characters. In excellently understated performances, the actors are coolly detached. At one point, they relate the scenario of a school shooting, but are more interested in meticulously arranging the details of the inadequate shopping facilities in the area where the killer lives. In a move which is at once distancing and absorbing, the rules governing this preciseness remain unfathomable to the audience.
Crimp's writing is full of hypnotic, deceptive simplicity. The more thought you invest in this text, the more fascinating it becomes. Moreover, James Macdonald's direction intelligently and unobtrusively reinforces Crimp's distinctive style. Over the years, his writing has been pigeonholed into so many different genres and this play also seems to offer a kaleidoscope of meanings. Whether he is postmodernist, poststructuralist, Surrealist or Absurd, Macdonald conveys Crimp's evocative sense of a certain barrenness at the core of modern life. This poetic emptiness underlies all of Crimp's theatrical elusiveness. Unsettling yet intriguing, you will find Fewer Emergencies' wit, subtlety and suggestion is memorably enthralling.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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