Words that create pictures

dirty work, theatre delicatessen

All the world’s a stage might be the message of Forced Entertainment’s new show re-worked from a piece originally performed in 1998.

Two deadpan performers. Cathy Naden and Robin Arthur, sit downstage alongside each other and alternately list a catalogue of disasters as if they had been part of a theatrical performance. Some of them are familiar stories from the news while  others are sufficiently horrific to make you hope they are imaginary – or fake news.

As a piece of theatre it shows the power of words in how the  purely verbal –  here merely one-liners with no details - leaves  it up to us the audience to visualise them.

It opens with the statement that Act One begins with five atomic explosions around the world which in reality might have been the end of it. But we go on to hear of all manner of incidents from  famous battle in history to  surreal theatrical,  circus and cabaret  turns via acts of protest. 

Acknowledging how the world has moved on since 1998, there are references to refugees and Donald Trump, Mention of  an elevator plunging down the shaft of a skyscraper  only a few days after that actually happened in Chicago intriguingly  poses the question of whether it was coincidence or a topical last-minute revision to the text.

One of the other  points it makes is  that with the advance of communication technology and social media we are informed as never be before and yet very few us do anything about it. We are all passive spectators.

As can sometimes be the case  with Forced Ents it’s thought-provoking and intermittently funny but perhaps goes on a tad too long. There is a sense that after making its point there is nowhere really for it to go in dramatic terms.

                                                        Ian Soutar