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Ten Out of Ten

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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With a stated aim "to make uplifting, multi-sensory performances rooted within everyday ambitions", the TOOT collective have put together something rather intriguing in the main space of the Ovalhouse.

It's an interactive 'course', with chairs arranged in a school room formation and audience members invited to partake in a series of events and challenges – I won't spoil the surprises but fear not, there's nothing to frighten the more limelight-averse among you.

Centring on the story of Jessica, an everywoman figure who goes through the typical achievements of 10m swimming badges, A'Levels, driving tests, employment and marriage, it asks us to consider why we jump through these hoops and where they take us in the end.

The tone is for the most part acerbic, our hosts (Terry O'Donovan, Clare Dunn and Stuart Barter) proving an amiable trio with a distinctly off-beat humour. But every so often they stop us in our tracks, notably when Jessica loses her job as a sales rep and her world literally crashes down around her ears.

The cleverly-conceived seating arrangement means that scenes take place in and around us, granting one-on-one experiences one minute and end-on theatre the next. It also intriguingly denies individual audience members the comfort of sitting as a cheek-by-jowl collective.

Although the piece still has the air of a work in progress, and stops short of achieving full marks, there is nevertheless plenty of promise in this company. In many ways they've concocted Death of a Salesman for the 21st Century.


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