Pembroke New Cellars, 7pm, until Thu 29 Nov
Well, that was weird. I’ve just got back from the Pembroke New Cellars (which is, by the way, incredibly difficult to find) and I am confused to say the least. Jess Moor, Scott Aandrasden-Banach and David Rattigan’s KNOTS defies any sort of description, let alone a review. But I’ll have a go at it. I’ve just sat in the basement of an accommodation block in Pembroke, where I have attended a lesson on citizenship, watched a person drink their own blood through a straw, a lad strip down to his pants and then re-dress as a rabbit and listened the angst of an OCD robot from a new millennium. This is not your average night at the theatre.
Frances Holgeth makes a very convincing school teacher and for a moment during the scene I actually felt as though I was back in school. The actors in the audience do a sterling job- one turns round and whispers ‘she’s a lesbian’ whilst pointing at the poor teacher, whilst others chuck paper planes and bits of paper at each other. The room was set out like a classroom, with actors dispersed around the desks on which were sheets with definitions and quotes about ‘freedom’- a touch which, whilst contributing to the classroom scene, was ever-so-slightly A-level Drama. There were four people in the audience tonight, and I think that the cast were hindered slightly by the audience size. A bigger crowd would really have given them a chance to shine and emphasised some of the more brilliant aspects of this piece of theatre. I especially felt this was so when Holgeth instructed the class to ‘leave for assembly’ and we were marched out of the studio whilst the room was made ready for the next scene where the strangeness of this piece took hold. Christabel Clark gave a superb performance as…well, as a complete freak. After the strokes of Big Ben her character Phil proceeded to drink his own blood through a straw and then spit it into some flowers between terrorising the shivering wrecks of poor characters Colin and Ruthy, played by Matt Clayton and Saul Boyer. Both Clayton and Boyer play their roles very well, in a well-timed and subtle way. Clayton’s OCD robot carries a scene which drags ever-so-slightly and is an abrupt halt to the comedy and charming bizarreness of the previous scenes. I’m sure the writers and cast might accuse me of ‘not getting it’, and they’d be right, if there was anything to get, then I didn’t ‘get it’. I’m inclined to think that not getting it is the point. The advertising promises naturalism, surrealism and theatre of the absurd and this is certainly what you get- the writers obviously know their stuff. If you have a spare hour and a bit towards the end of term and fancy being perplexed, freaked out and mildly amused, then negotiate your way through Pembroke to their neat little basement theatre studio to see KNOTS– but take some friends with you for support.