Theatre in Wales

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Aberystwyth Dramatist Back in London

Future Imperfect

KDC Theatre , Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town , June-21-18
Future Imperfect by KDC Theatre There is a small footprint of Aberystwyth in North London. Rheidol Terrace and Mews lead into Noel Road, the home of Joe Orton, and from there it is a three minute walk to the King's Head Theatre. Two years ago, that theatre was host to a fine company led by producer Sandra Bendelow from Aberystwyth. The dramatist for that production was Catrin Fflur Huws. She returns, a couple of miles west in Kentish Town, as a contributor to KDC's ten-author composite production.

If it is not the full “To Kill a Machine” it is nonetheless an accomplishment. KDC Theatre was at the Lion and Unicorn in 2017 on a theme of “What Keeps Me Awake.” This year the brief was tight- one theme, no more than four pages of script, no more than four actors- and attracted 164 submissions. The result is 13 pieces, 6 directors, 10 actors. The tone overall leans, satisfyingly, towards a blackness of comedy. Catrin Fflur Huws differs with her “Cream Coloured Clock”, a monologue of pain on the inexorability of time's passage, the fading of vitality, the stretching of care's demands. Scott Mullen's “Wednesday” which precedes it is also about time. Played by Annabel Thomson and Ynes Benotmane it meditates on themes of connectedness, responsibility and escape.

Pete Barrett offers a pair of two-handers with jokes of originality to them. The setting for “Not a lot we can do about that party” is outside a party conference on the Brighton seashore. Seagulls squawk in the background while interviewer Carl Fletcher quizzes party leader Ynes Benotmane across a range of topics. She thinks studiedly about each issue, be it health or Europe, before confidently pronouncing party policy: “not a lot we can do about that.” It is a nice, and comic, antidote to the daily voices, so confident in their messianic promise of national transformation.

In “Crime Sympathy Unit” Carl Fletcher is visitor to Alex Lopez, owner of a home that has been trashed by burglars. The joke is that the organisation man is not going to do anything beyond offer sympathy. The temperature rises on one side, only to elicit response of ever greater depth of understanding. Like all good comedy it adheres to a truth; characters imbued with a passionless understanding are maddening.

The relationship of state and citizen features also in Rex McGregor's “Pseudo Human Resources.” In a step beyond the call centre, government is working on hologram-delivered services. The twisting action reveals its characters to be a series of ever more sophisticated avatars. A hologram too features in Matt Beames' “Moving Day” where a human resident has become overly fixated on his digital mate. Helen Jackson follows a similar theme, whereby Emma Hayward's digital assistant is all-knowing. “You have a 27% liquid deficiency” she adds to a recommendation that it is time for a drink. She assumes affection and, in a variation of Clarke's HAL 2000, pursues it to lethal end.

In “”Welcome to Future Imperfect”, also by Helen Jackson, creepy tech consultant Sarah Beebe explains to naïve client Callum McGregor a psychological theory. If experience is mediated via expectation an obvious action is to enhance the quality of the first by lowering the second. The tech solution is a bionic implant, the Suppressor 3000. Comically the process turns even a sugar-free biscuit made of kale into an object for pleasure.

Sarah Beebe is another kind of authority in Ken Preuss' “Taking Sum Lumps.” Lil Avichezer's cracked mirror leads to a seven-years' worth of bad luck delivered in a digital-speed crescendo. Ken Preuss also plays with time and technology in his dystopic “What's App-ening?” Danielle Florence writes another variation on present realities with the ecstatically played “Dancercourse”

All history is contemporary history, it is said; so too all futurology is about today. Look only to the clunky machinery in the great “2001”. The 45th President is inspiration for “III Comes Forth.” It is a great joke to infuse his spirit into the thunderous monologue delivered by Alex Lopez' Richard III. “My 1484 Parliament”, runs the declamation, “is gonna have a lot of impressive legislation!”

The award for sheer exuberance of wordplay goes to Ian Green. The situation is simple. Annabel Thomson is late with an essay and requests an extension. Her screen is displaying the depressing “Error 404.” Carl Orff rises on the soundtrack to the script composed in dramatic rhyming verse.“404” in particular is prompt for a virtuosic number of rhymes in an inspired variation on rap-theatre. It may be high fun for us but a lot of work has made it our fun. The director here is Govind Hodgson. The other directors are Sarah Dobson, Aneirin Evans, Danielle Florence, Grace le Bachelet and Steph Urquart.

The producer for “Future Imperfect”, continuing until 23rd June, is Vicky Olusanya. Theatre in London is infinite in its layering. This production of KDC Theatre slots alongside the evening of Chippy Lane in February this year. The venues are small and intimate. Props do not go beyond a chair or two. The qualities of acting, direction, sound are high. Both companies play to what makes theatre fly; in Battersea and Kentish Town alike the audience is left manifestly delighted.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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