Engine Room

Is there anything in the world better to distract from the run up to Christmas than a scratch night?

No. There is not.

Engine Room at Omnibus Theatre showcases three pieces in development. It happens once a season and provides a platform for emerging work to develop and gain oh-so-valuable feedback. Just the dream really!

YesYesNoNo presented their work in progress [Insert Slogan Here]. Describing itself as a piece about capitalism and advertisement, it presented some of the most beautiful, lyrical text I have heard in a very long time. Descriptive prose to which you could close your eyes and be totally absorbed in it’s world is a quality which it must not lose as it adds visual art and music. This was effectively complemented by audience interactions. By asking for volunteers from the audience to engage with on-stage activities a sense of shared ownership was gained about the piece. As it happened, the volunteers who participated were very happy to speak candidly about their lives; their first day at high school, their first kiss – whilst building a car out of cardboard boxes. I wondered if every audience the piece receives will be so willing to share. I hope they are, because the structure and the nature of these parts was so important in shaping the narrative. It is a very brave thing to do to put so much of your show into the experience of the audience, although I think the show can credit itself for being so solid in structure and theme it can afford to indulge in the varying stories provided by volunteers. It plays with it’s theme; which was explained at the end. When this is threaded into the narrative it will most certainly chill the audience into understanding. Overall, I think it is a solid piece of work.

Next up came Audacity Theatre with their own story entitled Cauldrons of Chaos. Now this caught my attention instantly – a trombone and two northern accents and I was sold. The show was an honest, live verbatim-style account of the actors experiences of gambling addiction. There was an effective use of soundscapes, created live using a loop pedal (very jazzy) which helped to make the sensitive and serious topic of addiction into a performative event. The level of performativity within this show was varied, and perhaps its contrast is necessary to demonstrate the serious emotion associated with the subject matter. There is also a good deal of northern humour, which I would plead them to play with and emphasise. I feel like it would also work as a piece alongside other experiences of addiction – part of a festival of work perhaps. I very much enjoyed it though, next time it would be great to have the comedy shine more.

Now the last piece I will admit, I didn’t make it the whole way through. It was a one woman show about Alzheimers. What I did see was touching, realistic and raw, although it was enough for me.

As a whole it was an exciting and interesting evening. I could see so much potential for each of the shows and would love to see the next step of the process!IMG_7720

Photo Credit: Alyssa Chamberlain