As a first-class exercise in absurdism, three characters bring to life a stellar script from Kyung Oh. Two friends, A and B, have to go out ‘to do this thing, at this place’ before they are joined by C, who has just escaped from a Monet. From post-war Paris to the paintings of Goya at Prado in Madrid, from a vibrant Spanish market to much closer home with the story of C’s mother, the production is a classic example of what an absurdist play should be – complete, surreal, and timeless.
The scene opens with A and B in a fifth-floor flat, enjoying the view and concocting up a story about a smile stealer. I thoroughly enjoyed the Murakami-esque story, replete with magic realism. Ellen McGrath is the red-sweater-wearing A and Tim Atkin, with his bright yellow socks, seemed to complete the cast – until Isobel Laidler, who plays C with her bright blue ribbon, appears. Her act is flawless, down to holding the stance of the subject of a most recognisable Monet and pretending to be lost within a dream.
It only gets better in the following acts, with Goya paintings brought to life by their vivid descriptions. The script is so strong that I could almost see them in my mind’s eye. The story continues with how Marie Antoinette learnt how to laugh at suffering just to amuse herself from boredom. We hear of a possible story of C’s mother and her lover in Paris, and A brings cake. Why? Because there is a storm raging outside, of course. All this absurdity is packaged within a believable skeleton; I am usually sceptical of things that are kept from me as a viewer, but this production has achieved the selling of reality as farce.
The narrative at times was a bit repetitive, even if the concept demanded it. For example, repeating jokes during a stand-up comedy scene to elicit laughs was a bit tiring. And at times, A’s voice was so soft that I wasn’t sure I was hearing everything.
But in spite of those small flaws, there are some beautiful thoughts to take away, like wondering if it is autumn yet when it is already winter… haven’t we all been there? Watch this show with no expectations; allow yourself to see the museums, hear the Spanish market music and the sounds of the wind. You’ll come out feeling refreshed without quite knowing why. And that’s theatre of the absurd for you!