A pile of random household objects – a roll of kitchen paper, a teapot, some spangly string – becomes a complex financial instrument powered only by market confidence. After a few minutes it is known as The Dictator. Only moments later it has been dismantled, the five performers have become embroiled in a massive punch-up and it is never mentioned again.
Mind Out’s premise is an elaborate theatrical game with one rule – each of the performers’ minds does not control their own body. Their bodies are each “controlled” by another performer, who offers instructions – “you pick up the biscuits”, “you stir the tea”, “you kiss her”, “you answer him”, “you throw her across the room”, etc.
While initially looking like an over-developed improv exercise, you gradually realise that control passes wordlessly between performers. Everything has been meticulously crafted and drilled. Scenarios develop. An innocent attempt to make tea rapidly descends into ice-cream being flung at walls and a near-fatal fall from a climbing rope.
Just as the piece refuses any discernible narrative or indeed apparent motivations for suggested actions it also eschews the normal niceties of stage-fight etiquette. When the brilliantly guileless Tom Bowtell gets kicked from his chair it is all the funnier for being so palpably real and wrong.
Thanks to the removal of old-fashioned dramatic devices like character and story, Station House Opera create both an intriguing space within which meaning is created by the audience and a series of very funny comic routines into the bargain. This is postdramatic theatre meets Buster Keaton. Enjoy.
**** (four stars)