30 October 2009 WOS Rating: Venue Contact Where: Manchester Make – Believe,the new production from Quarantine Theatre, is unique in crediting both a philosopher and an air guitar coach. Such an ambitious range gives us an uneven show in which the concept is sometimes better than the execution. This is the case in a sequence involving lengthy audience participation. Quarantine ( Lowri Evans, Jeziel Hercules, Marcus Hercules, Johanne Timm and Yusra Warsama) try not only to examine personal beliefs but also the extent to which we can tolerate those of others. This leads to a contrived approach in which we are invited to put forward our ideas on events that have shaped the universe from the big bang to the present. The problem is, it never really gets beyond the type of discussion that occurs in the pub and attempts by the cast to stir up controversy feel strained. The point is better expressed in the more simple sequences, in which the cast perform powerful monologues. One in which a Rasta sets out his family history and religious beliefs is very moving which increases the shock when he explains that he does not accept the theory of evolution. The show succeeds in illustrating the power of theatre to stir the imagination. When a two-year old refuses to perform a dance he has rehearsed the number is described to us becoming more and more extreme until it includes the child lifting up an adult partner and juggling burning torches. Although his pacing could be quicker director Richard Gregory shows great imagination in the use of limited props. An entire community is created by building characters out of clothes arranged on chairs and the cast describing the people to us. The scene ends with a lovely moment of slapstick humour. It is fun to watch the cast miming the performances of Take That and Guns and Roses. The real performances of boy bands and cock-rock groups are often so extreme that they border on being funny anyway but the play manages to find fresh humour yet would not offend fans. Including James Brown in this sequence is a mistake as the Godfather of Soul had a degree of dignity that makes parody difficult to achieve. Make- Believe is too disjointed to be completely satisfying but does demonstrate that theatre remains able to surprise and delight as well as occasionally annoy. -Dave Cunningham Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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