When: 6th to 16th July 2011 at 7.30pm
Where: Almeida Theatre, Islington, London, N1 1TA
£: 15 (Concessions 7.50)
What is it?
Greyscale presents the Theatre Brothel, a different way to experience performance. During its run at the Almeida Theatre it has taken over the building, utilising the formal and informal performance spaces, offering audiences the opportunity to explore unseen areas of the theatre and visit several times without seeing the same work twice.
Promising to be a tailor made evening with different shows and spaces throughout the venue to choose from I was quite intrigued and excited. Usually when you visit the theatre you know exactly what you are going to see and have certain expectations of what the performance is going to be like. With Theatre Brothel this isn’t the case, instead there is just the feeling of adventure. On arrival we were invited into the basement area to answer some simple quick questions such as loud or quiet and truth or beauty. We were then handed different coloured poker chips which gave us entry to two shows that were picked based upon our answers. We had the option to request entry to certain shows by saying a ‘magic word’ to our host but I thought it would be more of an experience to have a couple of random shows picked for me.
Back in the foyer we waited for our shows to be announced. For the first of my shows I was in the main theatre whilst my partner was herded downstairs into the dressing room for his performance. The performance in the main theatre was a one man show by poet Inua Ellams. He told stories about growing up in Nigeria, England and Ireland with tales of getting in, and out of trouble with nothing more than a chair for props. The stories were told in a lyrical manner with some funny, touching and cheeky moments. The cheeky, slightly rebellious tales of youth were easy to listen to and before I knew it the time was up and it was time for show two.
Meanwhile in the less conventional, and intimate settings of the dressing room my partner was being treated to Judas’ point of view as to his involvement with Jesus Christ. Judas was being played by John Paul Connolly, who was quick to point out the irony in this. The performance was powerfully acted, humorous throughout but with serious undertones, and with lots of audience participation. My partner particularly enjoyed this piece of theatre as it provided a more interactive experience to what you’d expect when visiting the theatre, and kept the audience thinking on it’s toes. The perfomance was thought provoking, and my partner came away with more questions than answers.
Back in the main theatre the second performance of the evening was different again. Tea and biscuits were served upon entry immediately creating a communal feeling between the audience and the two performers. This show based on the life of slightly mental French maths genius Galois is probably the most interactive theatre I’ve seen. Members of the audience were picked out to play the parts of an examiner, Galois parents, the jury and witnesses in a court case. The show was fascinating and funny, if a little confused and hard to follow in places. The performances themselves were a perfect balance of humorous and dead pan. If I’d heard of Galois before the show began then I would have found it easier to follow but nevertheless I really enjoyed the experience.
If you have a sense of adventure and like the unexpected or are just looking for something different to do with your evening then this is the kind of theatre for you. More and more of these kind of mini-festival theatre experiences are popping up and to me they offer good value for money and are a fun alternative to conventional theatre shows.
Greyscale was formed by a group of established directors, writers, actors, and designers to explore the fringes and gaps in-between the ways they work. Their trademark style is powerfully live, carefully structured, original, interactive and anarchic, for a modern audience “bored of being bored”.