Can Journalism, Charity and Theatre go hand in hand? | Theatre play Review

Recently I went to a contemporary theatre play which has been running through my head all week. ‘DOES MY SOCIETY LOOK BIG IN THIS?’  It is the name of the Theatre play, performed at the recently refurbished Bristol Old Vic. 

The promotional flyer promissed that  “It will be rough. It will be funny.It will be topical.” but what really got me thinking was the innovative  format on which the script was developed and presented. The satirical piece aims to give us a scan of the “biggest news stories of today and unearths the truth that lurks behind the headlines.” Focused on the Bristol society, it addresses various current topics such as the recession, the riots, the upcoming Mayoral elections in a city where community sense is strongly felt and defended.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The plot unfolds by the vox-pop interviews the Wild Oats cast have made to various people in Bristol. Diverse characters and relevant opinion makers: the environmental activist, the Bristol Occupy representative,  the student  , the lawyer and his artist dancer son, and many others.. They were asked about Bristol, what would they change, what would they do if they were the Mayor, the riots, its motives, the bristol pound, the future…
  • Multi-disciplinarity: The scene was divided between, short videos, musical acting led by piano played on stage, theatre sketches, host introductions, dance acts, monologues,
  • Interactivity: One of the main themes was the upcoming local Mayor election, which brings many questions regarding the future of the city and/or a community. In the satirical play the challenge was to elect an OldVic Theatre Mayor for the night. A budget of £200 was available and had to be allocated to the Mayor’s winner project pitched on stage. Six people within the audience  were randomly invited , including Oldvic’s chairman Laura Marshall, to run for Mayor of the Night. After the first pitches, came the break where the audience was motivated to interact at the Bar with the candidates between a drink or two. After the break, a second opportunity to reformulate pitches was given to the candidates and the audience had found on their seats individual little voting forms. In the end a Mayor was elected!
  • Charity: The elected candidate, a young men with a calm and sweet pitch, had proposed to donate the £200 to a Children’s Charity organisation in Bath his girlfriend works at. And so it happened! Great cause who moved and amused everyone.

At rare times felt a bit dull, as the actors were a bit attached to the papers with the interviewees’ answers. More specifically I think the scene that most suffered from that was the Stokes Croft riots one. Such a hot topic still, with many independent video content available on youtube, I felt something was missing there… too much of a long interaction between 2 characters attached to papers..

Nevertheless, it was a great evening, and an excellent interactive contemporary theatre play at the gorgeous Old Vic. I wonder if non Bristol residents would connect as much as I did, but who knows if the format is adapted to other cities…?!

“The post-millennial glow of optimism may have dimmed, but our instinct to speak out burns bright. We wake in 2012 to a buckled economy, a fractured government and an increasingly bruised public sector struggling to keep up”. (Bristol Old Vic)
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