It's difficult to judge the success of a production that aims to be bad. The Thrill of it All, a new work from the controversial group Forced Entertainment, does just that. The audience is greeted by a troupe of badly dressed, clumsy dancers, who arrange themselves around a number of faux palm trees; things start on a deliberately odd note, and an audience member leaves, visibly disgruntled, within five minutes.
Taking the form of a series of show numbers, motivational advice and bizarre inter-cast fracas, The Thrill of it All is at times desperately full and at others surprisingly humorous and clever. Parts of the performance appear fully realised, such as an indulgent recitation of false poetry, but others seem de-skilled and arbitrary. Voice distortion, for example, is used throughout: speaking consistently at an exaggerated pitch, the cast become stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.
Forced Entertainment brilliantly exploit showbiz formulae and defy our understanding of natural cadence. They're funny too, and examine their audience with a cynical eye: "Now I've looked," says one of the identically clad blonde-wigged performers, "there's some ugly people here tonight".
There are some captivating moments, but equally some repetitively futile sequences. Both intelligent and stupid, I'm not sure quite what Forced Entertainment think they're going to achieve.