Monday, 20 April 2009

...Always Should Be Someone

A few years ago Nicholas Hytner announced his populist intentions at the National by choosing Blur's hedonistic Girls and Boys as the play out track to Mark Ravenhill's Mother Clap's Molly House. It was used again last night at the end of the normally playful Improbable Theatre's new show Panic at the Barbican and once again '...always should be someone you really love' is the take home message after an evening spent exploring desire and neurosis. Fidelity always seems a pre-occupation of theatre artists who often live in a world of intense experience, followed by fallow fallout.

Panic is a play about Pan, or rather Improbable director Phelim McDermott's relationship with this God of animal lust. Cue a huge phallus, three nymphs - who back in real life Phelim may or may not have slept with: an actress he trained with in the eighties, the PA who fills out his tax returns and struggles to express her emotions and a gat toothed aerialist (they don't half get around) who believes that she heals everybody she sleeps with - so has sex to spread goodness, and a frightening collection of his self-help books - all designed to distract from the uncomfortable truth that occasionally you could just do with a shag.

I'm not sure much happened in the piece other than confession both from Pan and the nymphs who, without naming names, reveal into a microphone how they felt at once euphoric and cheap to be seduced. But this, as a device, feels dated and rather dull, so you're left watching Julian Crouch's ever inventive design. The brown paper bags carrying the self help books brilliantly become masks onto which the nymphs faces are projected.

It's all a bit boysy really and in all truth feels like both a mid-life crisis and a precocious show.
Some nights at the theatre you leave spirits lifted, some nights you feel angry at the huge injustices of the world. Tonight I just felt like sinking a bottle of wine and staring lasciviously at the other late commuters on Waterloo station.

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