The Author (5 stars)

This article is from 2010.

The Author

Outstanding show exploring voyeurism in art

In a festival with a good deal of verbatim theatre, Tim Crouch’s new play deals in a timely fashion with the difference between pure reality and authenticity. The tale told is self evidently untrue, yet its truth feels increasingly more believable than reality. At each step the audience is asked to collude in an untruth, as audiences inevitably do, so the fiction we cooperate with becomes overwhelmingly unsettling.

Crouch carries this off by placing himself and three actors within an auditorium with no stage, only an audience from which the performers carry out a ‘conversation’ about several events surrounding a production they have recently completed. From a ‘friend’ of the theatre involved in an auditorium accident on the final night, to an actor whose stage character begins to control him, to a young actress torn between commercial reward and serious theatre, and on to the eponymous scribe, each tests our response to an increasingly shocking series of events. We are repeatedly asked if what is being described is too much, but continue to assent.

Crouch’s piece examines the forms of voyeurism involved in art, describing research that involves watching endless acts of violence on the net, and interviewing victims of abuse for the sake of representing them as ‘real’. In manipulating reality, the piece makes the point that the simple recording of an event, be it violence or pornography, has become so commonplace that we are somehow cauterised, preserved from its flesh and blood incarnation, yet even describing it verbally inside the ‘safe’ confines of a studio theatre can have an appalling effect. Seldom in recent years has the unwritten contract between actor and audience been so powerfully exploited. Good theatre is manipulative, but not necessarily true, and this compellingly performed play knows it.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 29 Aug, times vary, £15–£17 (£11–£12).

The Author

  • 5 stars

'I have the choice to continue. I have the choice to stop.' Settle back into the warmth of your seat. Relax as the story unfolds. It's for you. With you. Of you. A story of hope, violence and exploitation. A new play by Tim Crouch about the abuse carried out in the name of the spectator. 'It's about us, what we see, and…


1. Sasha123 Aug 2010, 2:12pm Report

Is giving a performance 5 stars about recommending others to go and see it? If so, I don't know how anyone could in good conscience recommend anyone to go and see this play. It's clever, well written and challenging theatre. But overall, it's incredibly harrowing and disturbing. When I saw it, many, many people walked out, unable to handle the narrative. There's also a double whammy of flaws - 1st not transporting it from the Royal Court Theatre to the Fringe (which could easily have been done without affecting the play in any way) and 2nd, by seeming to encourage audience participation at the start and ignoring it further into the play when the audience ask the actors direct questions. Both these things stopped this play from fully working as a piece of theatre - surely worth the removal of at least one star.

2. Scot James27 Aug 2010, 4:47pm Report

I largely agree with Sasha, especially about the participation problem, except I wouldn't say it was particularly clever or well-written. It's a mix of shallow and hackneyed "playing with the form of theatre", which is only appealling to critics and theatre folk, and a crudely exploitative storyline. Pointlessly and deliberately shocking the audience is a good way to get stars, but I heartily recommend you skip this show.

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