Gary Stevens‘ Not Tony has a certain dead-pan charm. GS has boiled-egg eyes in a genial, slightly rubbery hang-dog face. He’s a rumpled middle-aged guy in a suitcoat standing behind a small square table between two bright red, wicker-seated chairs. On those seats, or on the floor at his feet, are the props he will use in performance. Among them are a teapot, a rubber duckie, a tape recorder, a framed pic of himself in a fake black beard, a headband with dog ears attached, a longish red wig, a pair of eyeglasses. These props signify place or character. He switches between them, banging items on the table, donning and doffing the wearable ones as he adopts and abandons roles in a family unit. They are mother, father, two brothers + a girlfriend. Oh, and a dog. And then there’s Gary himself, this less-defined yet central presence who serves as actor and narrator. Who’s he in all of this?
It’s an amusing conceptual piece. Clever, absurd and sometimes quite English in the way the family members relate to each other. GS also makes a pretty good dog, watchful and patient and intent when it comes to getting a biscuit. But I grew a little weary of the performance, too. The timing was off, or the material was just not that funny after awhile. The oddest bit was after it was over, with Stevens coming out in virtual silhouette to gather his props like some nocturnal OCD-afflicted person. Odd that no one helped him clear his stuff till he’s packed everything away in a wheeled suitcase. Just… odd.
Lucy Suggate‘s Liquid Gold is a mesmerising mercurial solo with LS encased like a beautiful-bodied sausage in a molten gilt catsuit. The soundtrack (unidentified – sorry!) is a layered and highly manipulated mala voice who repeats the same phrase (words and music). Initially LS oozes centrestage, which is compelling enough, but somewhere along the line she shifts into what I read as a male character because of the swagger she brought to her body language. She’d morphed into this strutting, undulant, concave street character with a strong mimetic hip hop vibe. I wasn’t sure about the deflating-breath slow fade to darkness as it was happening but by the end it was working for me. And in the context of ONE and THREE how blessedly short and succinct this piece was!
Louise Wallinger, where have you been all my life? I didn’t know about this verbatim theatre specialist but now that I do boy, am I glad. She’s hilariously skilled at adopting a collage of voices, all of which are beamed into her ear via iPod. The texts she uses are all culled and shaped from interviews with real people – nosy, noisy or complaining neighbours or the noise officers and council workers who deal with them. ‘Noise is classless,’ one of them says. The piece is called Annoying the Neighbours, and in it Wallinger serves up a rich gallery of snoops, gossips and observers both male and female. She herself is perfect casting: a comic youngish-looking sububan matron with eyes both sharp and glazed as she listens and regurgitates the words of others. And how fascinatingly, peculiarly, uniquely and eccentrically British they are! Jolly good, this. My only cavil is that this solo performance probably went on too long. I mean, terrific material and delivery but I was ready for it to end before LW herself was ready to stop.