The One Man Show

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
33329 large
39658 original
Published 06 Aug 2011
33331 large
39658 original

From the creators of the much lauded Shunt Lounge, Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari, comes this intriguing piece of theatre about theatre – or, more specifically, about the various networks and relationships theatre sets up, uses and abuses. "This is an actor," we are told by what must be the snarkiest, most playful powerpoint presentation you're likely to come across. "You can tell by his face." For unashamedly experimental theatre, it's amusingly and refreshingly direct, and it's this commitment to working from first principles rather than—with the odd exception—striving for the esoteric which marks The One Man Show's greatest success.

Performed as a sort of double act between Barrett and the aforementioned slideshow, the audience is led through a series of episodes exploring, one by one, the relationship between the actor and character, or the actor and audience, or between audience members themselves. While not all the sketches are equally successful, the line between asking serious questions about the nature of performance, and asking them in an entertaining and accessible way is very well managed.

Clearly, a great deal of effort has been expended on ensuring this technically complex show actually works, and the technology used enhances rather than hinders the many ideas it explores. It's a real shame, then, that less effort has been placed into sourcing images large enough to be projected on the big screen. There's grungy and then there's indecipherable and, too often, interesting visuals err on the side of the latter.