Saturday, 2 April 2016

    Theatre Review | Idiots ★★★★

    We are brutally reminded throughout this performance that what we are watching is 'not an adaptation'; we are reminded by the industrial light blinking those words at the back, and we are reminded by the actors. ...thing is that makes it damn hard to explain in a review.

    The Idiot is a classic novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which follows a disturbing, and fatal, love traingle. Fydor Dostoyevsky died in 1881, after living what some may dub a morally questionable existence. The play 'Idiots', is about neither of these things. The theatre company, Caligula's Alibi, instead merge the themes of his life and his work, and out comes this innovative, odd piece of theatre.

    The very opening of the show is categorically, not the show, more of a stand up comedy routine. In a very Brechtian way, we the audience were methodically talked through the plot, and made to feel semi-uncomfortable via audience participation. No one likes looking strangers in the eye. All of this was offset by some superb, and sarcastic, musical accompaniment from Jonathan Hopwood. 

    There were, throughout the piece, obviously a lot of comments on our society (inevitable, since The Idiot did really revolve around romance/engagement/life in 'society'), and a lot of it rang a little too true. The sole female actor, Jessica-Lee Hopkins, was a total standout. Since Nikki and I both come from acting backgrounds we find it very easy to pick faults in young, female performers (perhaps it's bitterness, don't judge us) but Hopkins was a star, no question. She play the unhinged Nataassa with such perfection, carefully treading the line between strong and cruel, vulnerable and was a delight to watch. But her plight, and her monologue delivered toward the end, regarding societies unequal treatment of women had me almost applauding out of time. 

    Also, the way she was treated, by the male characters, was nothing short of abuse...and yet we watched. This point was honed by placing a spotlight on a poor, random audience member. We, as a society, thanks to television, video games, news stories, etc... are so numb to female (not just female, but also male, animal, any living thing) mistreatment that now it's the norm. We can watch people have a fight anytime of the day, we can almost enjoy it, because that's what entertainment is now. Nothing is shocking anymore. Voyeurism is normal.

    I had a quick peek at some of the reviews from their prior shows/workshops at Vaults Festival, and someone had said, 'If Bertolt Brecht met Charlie Brooker on LSD after a hard nights drinking in a library.' Initially this sentence meant nothing to me, it makes perfect sense now.

    It's always good to shock yourself with new theatre, so we'd definitely recommend paying this a visit, especially as the company is so young - there's obviously so much to come.


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