Spoonfed.co.uk in Feb. 2010
Entirely new, utterly creative and complete with the risk of everything going disastrously wrong. What more could you want out of theatre?
Factory Theatre group increasingly pushes the boundaries of performance and production. In 2008 they brought us Hamlet with no costumes or props; in 2009,The Seagull with no script; and now, withRound 2 at The Electricity Showrooms, The Factory brings us a production with no characters.
Round 2 sees some of London’s most creative playwrights joinThe Factory and produce short plays to meet a challenging requirement: any actor, regardless of gender, race, age or appearance must be able to play any of the roles. Additionally, the author cannot provide any stage direction, props, or costumes. In short, every role must be malleable enough to become a completely unique character every time one of the Factory players steps into the role.
We launch into the first of the six plays of the evening; 1975. Both of the actors have learned both of the parts, so we as an audience get to decide which player speaks first and quickly the power of this seemingly structure-less form of theatre becomes apparent: what I am watching is well-written and intriguing, but I'm also imagining the result had we as an audience chosen the other actor as the first speaker. The alternate dimension that never was lurks behind each player’s words and actions – and we have no indication of the author's intentions when they penned the two characterless roles.
The ten to fifteen minute plays cover a variety of themes. Some of them are funny; others poignant; some with a dark humour.Turf, for example, is a raw and practically obscene mix of hate, love, racism and violence. That it's spoken by a mix of actors completely incongruous with the script adds another level of discomfort to the already uncomfortable words.
But to dwell on any of the individual plays, despite their brilliance, is an exercise with a shelf-life in The Factory’s world. The next time any of these scripts are performed, they will be done by different players, in a completely unique style. In fact, when Round 2 begins its run from March, not only will the actors and outcome change, but the scripts will rotate as well – ensuring a completely unique show each night.
As The Factory move away from traditional theatre, they not only challenge themselves as a company but they also challenge their audience to look at performance in a new way. Unsurprisingly, despite a brief that states otherwise, The Factory have created something that has a hell of a lot of character.