Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin
The Public Reviews Rating:
Organised Chaos have the wonderful aim of discovering and promoting new and emerging talents in acting, writing and directing in the North-West. They provide an excellent platform and support for new creative artists and help create a burgeoning fringe scene in Manchester. Their latest venture ‘Perspectives’ provided writers with the challenge of showing a different perspective on two possible themes, Modern Britain and Pregnancy, and creating a thirty minute production with the collaboration of emerging actors and directors. These pieces were evidently works in progress, and should be judged as such, and were performed with fringe, minimalist staging which placed the focus upon the script and its performance.
Firstly, Diabetic Penguins, written by Jess L and directed by Davina Shrank. This piece lured you into a sense that you were observing young men in Modern Britain, in a young offenders institute perhaps, sizing each other up, but the reality turned out to be it was a different kind of secure institution. There were some interesting moments in this piece i.e. Nana posting her shopping list to one of the characters rather than a letter, and some great one-liners such as, when talking about David Attenborough “This guy makes me want to know shit”. The most comfortable performance was Jarreau Benjamin who owned the stage and made his lines feel like everyday speech, and performed a particularly amusing rap.
Secondly, Staying Positive written by Gregory Skulnick and directed by Rebecca Fearnley was an inventive take on the choices and consequences surrounding pregnancy. Skulnick chose to take an inventive approach to a play-within-a-play with colliding characters and backgrounds. The scenes between the younger student characters who’d gotten knocked up during freshers were enjoyable and captivating. However, I wish they’d been pushed further than the comedy these talented actors were obviously comfortable with and instead pushed the boundary between humour and pain. The clichéd scenes of older actors trying to find out the details of each other’s disappointments and achievements gained laughter of recognition from several other actors in the audience.
Duty of Care written by Rik O’Neill and directed by Melissa Anne Ward provided a very different atmosphere. Beginning in the 1940s with a young Harold Wilson, the Beverage Report (which I’d never heard of!) and an Indian immigrant, which then led into a modern flat in Oldham with a troubled young man shouting vitriol at his Farsi occupational therapist and “poofter” social worker. This piece could have done without the 1940s introduction which didn’t really make sense until a story was told in the second half, and we kind-of got all of the necessary information from that story. Furthermore, although I was pleased to have a Royal Court-esque drama piece attempted in one act, the characters needed developing within the script for us to truly care about what happens to any of them in this modern Britain.
Finally, Inhabited written by Ben Spencer and directed by Andrew C Husband provided multiple perspectives on the “sticky situation” of pregnancy. Conveniently the other people in the main character’s life had all had experiences with abortion and could provide their perspective on her problem. Apparently, the best way to decide if you want a baby is either to have an abortion and regret it, or have a near-death experience. Jessica Hallows gave a strong performance as Michelle struggling to decide whether she had been ‘inhabited’ by or blessed with a baby, which held the piece together.
Runs until 22nd September
Tags: 3MT Theatre, actors, Andrew C Husband, Ben Spencer, Davina Shrank, Diabetic Penguins, Duty of Care, Geegory Skulnick, Inhabited, Jarreau Banjamin, Jess L, Jessica Hallows, Manchester, Melissa Anne Ward, New Writing, Organised Chaos, Rebecca Fearnley, Rik O'Neill, Staying Positive