The latest production – the 2nd for 2021 – from theatre whizzes Chronic Insanity runs about 48 minutes, and is viewed across two devices (computer and phone).
The viewer inputs a code to link and synch the devices, chooses which two of four performers they wish to watch, and then sit back to experience 24, 23, 22.
I chose Joe Matty to play Brandon and Helena Rimmer for Fran. His day begins at the end and works backwards, hers is told in a chatty style in retrospect. It is initially mundane stuff, missing a bus.
At first it feels as if the stories are unconnected as they stop and start. Do these people know each other? How did Brandon get to where we first find him, and what, if anything, did Fran have to do with it?
Written by Douglas Deams, and directed by Joe Strickland, this is “gig theatre … about what happens when you are in the wrong place at the wrong time”. We see Brandon steal, run, attempt small talk. Fran has a bad day.
This is a piece which plays out on two devices which synch together, but which is distracting (why not a split screen approach?). I liked the contrast between the day played out but I wasn’t sure about the captioned bits in Fran’s day (filling time as Brandon’s piece evolved).
You also need a very strong internet connection: I had to keep an eye on both video running times as at one time Fran’s stream froze and I had to pause the other so they didn’t clash and talk over each other.
It is an interesting piece which does push against what we find comfortable in storytelling (the first scenes in Brandon’s video could be quite triggering if you are unprepared that this is the end of a life), and which uses technology and the digital space in an innovative and surprising way.
In this show, I felt there was not quite enough synergy between the two accounts to make it work, although I enjoyed both the performances and felt some scenes were strong even if I didn’t completely accept the motivation of either character.
Is it about connecting with others? Brandon seems a loner who desperately tries to connect with others in the most basic of ways, while Fran is constantly coping with crowd intrusion and male put-downs. Is it about the minutae of a day, and how the most mundane of things can turn into a major incident?
I never found my attention wandering, but it took a while for it to click that the two characters were connected by what happened at the start. Both felt out of place and sidelined (Brandon by the cafe proprietor, Fran by her boss at the gym).
Ultimately, 24, 23, 22 is an intriguing piece which doesn’t quite click, but like all of Chronic Insanity’s work so far, it is well worth a look.
This Nottingham-based company have used the medium of digital platforms to push at what’s possible in performance online, and they are to be congratulated yet again on coming up with something which subverts what you expect from online shows.
Book into 24, 23, 22 on a pay what you can basis at https://www.tickettailor.com/events/chronicinsanity, where you can also book into their other shows for 2021.
Read my reviews of productions by Chronic Insanity.