Note: The following review dates from September 2002 and an earlier tour date of this production.
More elaborate and sophisticated, but less physically dangerous, than previous Frantic creations, Peepshow - written by Isabel Wright and devised by the company - is about to take off like a rocket (to quote from the play). Premiering at The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth and co-produced with the Lyric Hammersmith, the production - directed by Frantic co-founders and artistic directors, Steve Hoggett and Scott Graham - embarks upon a national tour culminating in a London season.
Behind the walls and windows of an inner city high-rise block of flats, two pairs of lovers, a couple of female flatmates and a single man reveal their individual stories through a series of rapid dialogues, interspersed with choreographed scenes daringly accomplished.
In total disharmony, jealous and insecure, the lovers argue constantly but fail to communicate their innermost needs. The lives-and-loves banter of the two women seems innocent enough, but neither is ever completely honest with one another. The loner's actions are misunderstood and his heartfelt longings never satisfied.
The audience act as voyeurs to the playing out of these private agonies, which - while intimate and intense in the extreme - never make for dismal viewing. Far from it. This is a triumph of contemporary theatricality that grips the audience for every one of its (non-intervalled) 80 minutes.
New to the mix of Frantic Assembly's signature raw emotion and thrilling acrobatics is UK band Lamb's music - an inspired addition. But, while there's now singing on stage, it doesn't turn Peepshow into a musical as such. Rather, the music underscores character development and emotion, and further highlights the versatility of this multi-talented company. Amongst the trusting - and always trustworthy - troupe for this new creation are Kate Alderton, Sarah Beard, Richard Dempsey, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Ben Joiner, Georgina Lamb and Richard Mylan.
Designer Dick Bird has produced an intriguing high-rise set - solid enough for the performers to throw each other around the bedrooms in some near-Apache style choreography from Dan O'Neill - displaying four apartment interiors as well as the communal lift, rooftop and the ever-changing sky above.
This is the most ambitious offering yet in Frantic's memorable catalogue of creativity. Yet again, this groundbreaking company shows itself to be blazing the path towards the future of theatre. It's a privilege to get a glimpse at this Peepshow.
- Annie Dawes (reviewed at Plymouth's Theatre Royal)