Home / Comedy / The Incomers – Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter

The Incomers – Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter

Director: Paul Jepson

Writer: Murray Lachlan Young

Reviewer: Joseph Leigh

[Rating:3.5]

incomerimage2(1)A capacity audience buzzes with anticipation as the house lights go down at Windswept Productions’ latest performance of The Incomers. Even without the presence of actors the auditorium is an impressive sight, with a kitchen/diner/living room framed by trees decorated with picture frames and mirrors. All of this is set before an impressive metallic kitchen wall, complete with door to an off stage hall way and a Keep Calm and Carry On poster, while the sounds of seagulls and gently lapping surf cement the production’s Cornish seaside setting.

If the metallic wall seems out of place in the performance’s obviously rural setting any sense of confusion is quickly resolved during a highly impressive flash back montage, when the metallic surface is revealed to be one way glass when lit from behind. This fantastic piece of staging enables action to happen in the main performance space as well as off stage ‘upstairs’; allowing the audience to witness the roller coaster of love triangles and plotting that this production delivers while providing a believable reason for the characters being unaware of each other’s machinations. The montage itself sets the tone for the whole performance as Rory Wilton, playing Gordon, and Mary Woodvine, playing Celia, demonstrate their impressive control of physicality to whisk us through the courtship and first ten years of Gordon and Celia’s marriage. Within a matter of minutes we see a passionate relationship dwindle into mediocrity, as the couple’s initially tandem movements become increasingly independent until their activities are completely separate.

It is at Gordon and Celia’s tenth anniversary that the action truly begins, with the arrival of Zach, played by Jerome Wright, and his new 25 year old French girlfriend Julia, played by Kirsty Osmon. What follows is a highly entertaining comical romp through the secrets and intrigues of three old friends, inflamed by the obvious passions and sexuality of burlesque dancer Julia and the looming threat of external influences to out the companions’ hidden trysts.

The performances of all four actors are highly enjoyable, and there is not a single performer who fails to draw out full belly aching laughter from the rapt audience. Wilton and Wright’s deep seated friendship is highly believable, and the antics of the pair provide some considerable humour. Particular note must go however to Mary Woodvine and Kirsty Osmon, who succeed in manipulating their apparently oblivious men while carrying out a vicious power struggle against each other. Woodvine’s manic laughter throughout the performance is so convincing it appears at first that she has broken character and is laughing along with the audience. The truth is anything but, as Woodvine delivers a masterful control of her emotions and portrays the full ambit of emotion from elative hysteria to the terror of a mother fearing for her children’s future. Osmon succeeds in delivering a powerful and commanding performance, as her physicality dominates that stage and enables her to convincingly overpower the other characters and bring them under her control. Even when out of the action Osmon remains completely engaged, never failing for a second to respond and act in character.

Fusing verse, prose, music, movement and dance, The Incomers engages the audience from the off. Written by 6 Music’s resident poet Murray Lachlan Young, the dialogue moves with fluidity and a natural ease; incorporating the verse in a manner that completely avoids any juxtaposition and develops the mystical Cornish backdrop of the performance. With any production containing strong references to sex and drugs there is always a risk of being too brash or shocking for the sake of shocking; however Lachlan Young effortlessly avoids this pitfall and instead uses these themes to great effect.

The ultimate plot line becomes fairly obvious early on in the production; however the twists and turns on the journey to that final destination make for some excellent comedy and entertainment. While The Incomers does not redefine theatre or cover unexplored ground, it does what it sets out to do extremely well; namely to provide a rip-roaring comedy that keeps the audience in stitches until the final bows. If you are looking for a fun evening of comic theatre suitable for an adult audience then this is definitely a show to see.

Runs until 27th April 2013.

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