Theatre is a collaborative experience. We need actors, writers, directors and audiences and Shattered Fragments is an exploration of that.
Above the Bread and Roses, which is currently closed for refurbishment, is a space that you can barely call a theatre. We’re sat on conference chairs that you might get at a wedding, there is a skimpy scaffold adorning the room as a lighting rig and in front of us is a small stage. It feels kind of laughable; however, with the beauty of lighting and (a lot) of creative license, we are transported right into some other stories.
The first piece, ‘The Burgundy Boy’, is created and performed by one of 6FootStories, Jake Hassam. His autobiographical piece is so tender but at the same time dark, and we are left wanting more. It is a quick song with himself, floating between innocent and malicious, which shows him completely exposed before our eyes.
Next ‘The Circus of Truth (Or How To Be A Better Human)’ comes at us with elongated pauses, pointed looks and painful moments. Georgia Murphy is a bizarre host who teaches us to release our insecurities into a cake. I guess that’s all I got from that.
The third piece, ‘Quality Street’ is a lovely guest piece from Alice Devlin and Lisa Maria Berg. It is a clowning piece of servant and master, ending in the servant killing said master with a string made out of quality street wrappers. Both are incredibly distinguished in their actions and the piece has a real drive and direction.
The original piece of writing from 6FootStories, ‘The Woman Whose House Was Stolen’ does what it says on the tin. It is one of those situations that you’ve never even thought about happening, and the piece tells what ensues when it does. Emily Lloyd-Saini does a great job as the protagonist following the event. A particular highlight is Patrick Evans as a council worker, breaking down because his wife has left him. Although the jokes are sometimes long-winded, I would definitely like to see the material expanded and explored.
Next Murphy is back with a surreal solo show, ‘Girl From Ipanema’, during which she opens various boxes. It is a mostly silent section and relies heavily on an audience member opening a box. It is dead awkward when no one does. Lastly the whole cast join us again for ‘Canterbury Jam’, which is an improvised storytelling contest between Lloyd-Saini and Evans. This improv narrating ‘The Millers Tale’ moves the cast, props and costume around as the tale is told. There isn’t really much scope for it to be fun or inviting unfortunately, especially as I didn’t know the story.
My main gripe of the evening is that some features feel a little self-indulgent. Particularly ‘The Circus of Truth (Or How To Be A Better Human)’ and ‘Girl From Ipanema’ are attempts at clowning that I just don’t understand. But there is also the risk of incestuous theatre-making: although it is lovely to have a great group of creatives whom we love and call friends, I believe our mission is to get great art out into the world and to other people. If friends are supported by friends, then we will only hear the best of things. In exploring our creative minds, we need to explore our audiences too. It is a risk, but we must believe in the work, otherwise we wouldn’t have created and presented it. I felt a bit like I was intruding on a private family party where they played absurd games, and I didn’t know any of the ‘in’ jokes.
Shattered Fragments is playing at the Bread and Roses Theatre until 17 May. For more information and tickets, see the 6FootStories website.