The shadowy railway arches of the Southwark Playhouse provide a setting full of magical possibility for The Exquisite Corpse, a theatrical game of Consequences. True/Fiction Theatre have brought together five Welsh playwrights (Branwen Davies, Angharad Devonald, Tracy Harris, Kit Lambert and Othniel Smith) to construct scenes written in isolation from one another, but inspired by paintings, some of which were given to more than one writer.
Prior to its commencement, the audience are given the opportunity to shuffle the play’s sixteen scenes in order to produce a unique production each night. The idea is intriguing and many of the scenes are interesting and fun but this show always feels experimental without the wit to be all-consuming or compelling.
That said, whilst some of the scenes are almost frustratingly brief, there are enough hints of conspiratorial character and plot lineage, albeit accidental, to leave one wondering whether perhaps there is more to connect the scenes than may be immediately apparent; the joy of this production is that you can invent your own reality but the dilemma is whether there is any greater meaning to derive. The novelty may prove to be fleeting but there is a challenge to traditional theatrical structures and norms and in this sense the ambition of the production is realised.
Alistair Kirton’s performance stands out particularly; his ability to switch convincingly between characters and convey meaning in such brief moments is hugely impressive. Jack Baldwin, Alex Beckett, Miranda Cook and Natalie Klamar ensure that each scene is delivered to its full potential and that the play’s random, anarchic spirit is maintained unerringly. One chiefly memorable scene involves a man’s relationship with the talking clock, christened and nurtured in his own tongue; a curious but pertinent backdrop for the disharmony of a struggling relationship.