My Out The Box Festival got off to the worst start this evening when I was trapped in the Intimate Theatre courtyard for the first performance of Trying. This experience was definitely in my top five of worst pieces of theatre ever, and I am so sorry about the fact that my talented friend and colleague Nicole Franco is in it. (I feel like that about Francis Chouler too, from whom I have come to expect such good things).
In fact, the last time I hated a show as much was two Out The Box festivals ago, and I had that same hideous feeling tonight, of being desperate to escape and totally unable to because the show was in the courtyard where the entrance was on stage.
Rachel Wood (the director) pulled twelve performers onto stage, as well as assembling a production team for video, sound and lights. Which is the reason why there was a technical hitch or three that meant that the show started 15 minutes late; not great at a festival where some people were booked for another show that they couldn’t make.
Once it got started though, I was in theatre hell. Endless, meaningless moments, little or no characters or sense entering and exiting. Arbitrary dancing. Horrible improvised (I assume) relationship scenes. Inappropriate jokes. Ages and ages to set up more arbitrary moments. Dreary movement pieces that went on forever. Cringeworthy, under rehearsed, directionless, repetitive, unconvincing and plain bad. This is ‘experimental’ theatre of the most unsatisfying. And I kept on thinking of the absolute waste; of resources, of talent, of time, of energy, of everything really. There was this one moment quite near the beginning where the one Israeli actress is sort of lying on the tarred floor and another actor is kind of running up and down, backwards and forwards alongside her. I overheard her whisper to him, “Ok, ok, it’s enough!” and he stopped. I so wished I could have said that and the show would have gone away.
The second funniest part of the show was when John Caviggia arrived very late, entered the stage, made his excuses and sat down, all the while complaining that he had heard there was a technical hitch and couldn’t believe the show had started without him. The funniest part of the play was when John Cavggia’s cell phone rang. And he answered it, announced to his friend Rita that he was in a show, commiserated with her about her cat’s gout and then explained that it was a new phone and he didn’t know how it worked. The person sitting next to me thought he was part of the show. He wasn’t.