Paid Fantasist, Camden People’s Theatre

Image result for tom baker

by Maeve Campbell

There is so much to like about Biscuit and Field’s new show Paid Fantasist. Rebecca Biscuit (one half of Sh!t Theatre) and Nick Field are a charming, new double-act. They employ a fantastically kitsch science-fiction disco soundtrack, enviable gold lame and an impressive Kate Bush impression. The most intriguing thing, though, is the 1978 Times article at the centre of the piece, ‘A Life in the Day of Tom Baker.’

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The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale, Camden People’s Theatre

Image result for the ex-boyfriend yard sale, Hayley mcgee

by Laura Kressly

I contemplate a ratty t-shirt displayed on a podium alongside several other seemingly random items. I’m asked to write down how much I would pay for it. Determining it’s not something I’d wear or have any other use for, I wrote £0 on a slip of paper that I slid into a box behind it.

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Elephant and Castle, Camden People’s Theatre

Image result for elephant & castle, camden people's theatre, tom, lillian

by Jack Solloway

Elephant and Castle is a strange and precariously funny gig-theatre show about the lives of Lillian Henley, a musician and silent film pianist, and her teeth-grinding somnambulist husband, Tom Adams. Whilst this may sound a little far-fetched, the play is very much rooted in the performers’ own experiences. Acting out their relationship, using live music and verbatim sleep recordings, Elephant and Castle dramatizes the bizarre reality of Tom’s slow-wave sleep parasomnia and his relationship with Lillian.

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Queen C*unt – Sacred or Profane?, Camden People’s Theatre

by guest critic Lara Alier

Blood. Clit. Cunt. Period…Oh, and nipples. Does it make me feel uncomfortable? Not really. It’s 2018.

Yet I remember two days ago, one of my flatmates couldn’t pronounce the word “vagina” and almost had a fit, gesticulating and mumbling incomprehensible sounds.

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Bullish, Camden People’s Theatre

Asterion wanders through the night, in a world that doesn’t really fit them. The minotaur of Greek myth, Asterion is the only one of their kind to exist. Asterion is bull-ish, neither human nor bull. Or, both human and bull. Either way, they’re on the hunt for adventure and way out of a labyrinth.

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Oh Yes Oh No

Some questions for women:

Is it ok to want to be fucked?
                                 Does wanting this oppose feminism?
Is it ok to want to be hit in bed?                      Will this man expect that from other women?
Is it ok to fantasise about being raped?               What does this mean if I’ve been raped?

Louise Orwin is asking big questions about female sexuality and desire, but she doesn’t have the answers. There are no definitive answers anyway, just individual experiences. To make Oh Yes Oh No, she interviewed dozens of women around the country and found some disturbing patterns – about 90% of the women she met had been raped. Many of them developed rape fantasies. Women struggled to reconcile their feminism with wanting men to dominate them in bed.

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Rave Space, Camden People’s Theatre

A few hours before the start of the New Year, I found myself alone in a dark room in Battersea Arts Centre with two DJs, Will Dickie and Jeremiah Isaacs. The encounter was intimate, revealing and brief. Twenty minute long The Resolution Studio recorded individual participants’ resolutions for 2016, created a signature dance move, and the two djs and their audience of one had a quick groove session before rejoining the venue’s party. Though I felt self conscious at being the sole centre of these two artists’ attention, it was an event that stuck with me the past few months.

When I received an invitation to Camden People’s Theatre festival Sprint 2016 closing show, Will Dickie’s latest work Rave Space, I jumped at the opportunity to experience more of his work. With The Resolution Studio captivating me with Dickie’s charisma and sensuality for such a short time, I couldn’t resist the offer of an hour-long rave and text hybrid piece in the basement of CPT. I left confused and disappointed, though. There are definitely some wonderful aspects of Rave Space­. Interaction, dance and music meld to make a gig theatre piece with some audience autonomy, but with an actual runtime closer to 90 minutes and lengthy, muddled sequences of text and contemporary dance that only tenuously fit together (if at all), this new piece is much in need of further development.

One-by-one entry, whilst it adds atmosphere and interaction, takes a long time as we each have to ID ourselves and receive a hand stamp. Once we’re in, we can peruse the tiny stations with LED signs, turntables, and random objects assembled like shrines in the corners of the room. Some people are given laser pointers. It’s mysterious, cryptic and exciting, though there isn’t much to actually do or engage with. People are chatting, performers/stewards in hi-vis pepper the space and it feels like a gig is about to start rather than a theatre piece. There are no chairs, and it’s late. The lengthy build-up creates buzz and excitement, but what follows is an anticlimax.

When the music starts, spinning from a pentagonal structure in the middle of the space, a few people get really into it, most others bob heads, some don’t join in at all. That’s ok because there’s no judgement, but watching other people have a great time can be dull. Spoken text over a mic and pre-recorded monologues eventually kick in, but there is a detachment from the music, even though the content is often about music or rave culture. There’s no through-line or any justification for pairing that particular music with those text extracts. Comparing rave culture with the experience of going to church is the most interesting proposal, but it is not investigated further. Also disconnected from any of the topics discussed in the sections of text are sequences of contemporary dance in various styles, including what looks like Butoh. Though a display of adept, emotive physicality akin to a Rodin statue coming to life, these are also detached from everything that has occurred so far.

Though the concept of creating a piece that incorporates rave culture with performance is an excellent one, Will Dickie’s execution leaves much to be desired. There is no denying his charisma and talent, but Rave Space needs to consider its aims and its audience as it grows.

Rave Space was a one-off event at Sprint 2016.

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