first night

Some Thing New

Leo Mylonadis finds much to praise with 'Some Thing New'

 

“Some Thing New” by Anna Jeary and Alissa Cooper is a foray into the creative process that all artists have come across at one point in their lives. As the audience are brought into the workshop led by the five contrasting characters, the artistic process of each are criticised and examined, while expertly engrossing the audience and encouraging us to engage with the subject matter.

 

Without giving much away, as part of the successful involvement of the audience in the story is due to the lack of previous knowledge, the audience was welcomed into the intimate Horsfall Room in St. Chad’s college by Seb, played by Rohan Perumatantri, who hands out felt tip markers and small pieces of fabric. The other characters mingle with the audience, handing out pebbles and welcoming us into the lesson-like environment. Audience interaction is a very tricky path to tread, and I am pleased to say that “Some Thing New” played this excellently: at very few points did the audience feel singled out or ‘picked on’, but rather was welcomed into the discussion the characters were already having concerning the purpose and method of creating art. From the outset, the fourth wall is entirely non-existent, and so the audience’s first impression is entirely distinct from anything you normally witness in the theatre. I would only caution the team to take care in the reworking process before their Edinburgh Fringe performance to truly clarify what the position of the audience is with respect to the cast, either as voyeurs or participants, in order to not confuse future audiences.

 

Following a brief ‘Intro to Art History 101’ by Edward, played convincingly by Hamish Clayton, it becomes evident that what we have been welcomed into is a sort of lecture, or ‘workshop’ as Kat (Zoe Coxon) explains. The only trouble of this premise is that it is not immediately clear what the purpose of this workshop is: is it to discuss with the audience what art is, or to play out a debate between the characters presented as to the optimal sources of inspiration and creativity? Nevertheless, the enthusiasm, commitment and focus of the cast throughout the play instil a sense of faith that all will be revealed, a promise, which is for the most part successfully met.

 

Filled with exceedingly intelligent discussions about the history and creation of art, the writing of the show must also be commended. At times it may have clashed with the entirely naturalistic setting of the workshop and the performances of the actors, but on the whole actors’ speeches were beautifully worded and constructed. Coxon’s anxious Kat, in particular, played off the delicate balance between comedy and seriousness that comes with exceptionally natural acting. While all of the actors’ performances were greatly skilled, and seemingly pulled off with great ease, the characterisations of each of the five artists in the room sometimes were not entirely easy to grasp. In certain instances the descent into heady artistic discussion seemed forced when the interaction between the characters was strongly motivated by emotional reactions which seemed to take a back seat to the academic conversations, a rare occurrence which can be easily worked out in the coming Fringe preparation process.

 

This is one of the few shows where I have been excited to see again, due to the relative uniqueness of the experience. I am excited to see how it will develop on the course to the Fringe. The cast and crew seem to have struck upon some sort of theatrical gold with their sensitive and dedicated portrayal of a topic that will surely be close to the heart of many of the Fringe-goers, and I wish them the best of luck! 

14 June 2015

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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