- Gareth K Vile
- 25 August 2019
Community orientated theatre that provokes some conversations
Standard:Elite is defined by its attempt to reconsider the typical audience and performer dynamic. The audience are invited to participate, in order to win an elite seat, which enables them to vote on the process of the plot. With two storytellers competing for attention, and a God-like musician interrupting their progress at points of conflict, the formal experimentation links to their efforts to relate a tale which, for all its mythical ornamentation, is a commentary on class politics in capitalist society.
There is an obvious connection to the forum theatre developed by Augusto Boal, and it shares Boal's lumbering political intentions. The audience participation is effectively managed, sensitive and fun, and the power of the elite becomes a commentary on the position of the ruling classes, reflected in the plot's adventures in a mythical world that is divided between those who work and those who rule.
The storytellers are lively, the musician increasingly sinister, yet the nature of forum theatre frequently obstructs the theatricality: the bluntness of the message may be disguised by the chance to get on stage and throw balls at the elite and their structures, yet the conclusions are ultimately a simplistic resolution to the wider issues and the cry for revolution ends with the performance. And since forum theatre was designed for non-theatrical spaces – it aims to take the politics of the theatre into 'real-life' – the conditions of the Fringe are not addressed, ignoring the most immediate situation for a fanciful utopian study of capitalism's unfairness.
Bedlam Theatre, run ended.