Some People Talk About Violence

Barrel Organ bring Some People Talk About Violence to the Royal Exchange studio.  ‘Expect people, or just ideas, in mindless frustration, on the edge of some kind of revolt’.

The outline of the story is set right from the start.  A girl is arrested but instead of phoning her mother she phones her brother in Thailand.  What follows is essentially an investigation into the characters of those people, their personal circumstances, and how other people might think they feel.  Members of Barrel Organ are randomly allocated to the three characters and a narrator; there are core facts, but the rest is conjecture.  What we see are glimpses of people who in reality are on the edge of losing control.  We see glimpses of their fears, their isolation and their confusion.

At times this feels like a game of charades.  At other times we’re hearing ‘facts’.  Sometimes it’s just a feeling, a dance, a daydream, a game.  Performers take it in turns, in ones or twos, but we’re always on the outside of the story.  It’s often ‘maybe’ rather than ‘this happened’.  The scenes that don’t work feel they’re still in the rehearsal room.  Those that have the greatest impact (and there are many) are powerful, drive the narrative and develop the characters, leaving that uneasy feeling of conflict underneath.

What improvised theatre like this offers is an honesty and accessibility that traditional theatre might lack.  There’s a sense that we’re all in this together, that we the audience are complicit in the production.  And that makes it all the more relevant.  In the end, we’re left with a collective sense of distance, a powerful analogy for our fractured and disconnected world.

Royal Exchange, 17 – 19 November.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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