Cut Mustard Theatre presents 2100: A Space Novelty at The Old Market as part of Brighton Fringe’s Nordic Season. The international company of five consists of Sam Dugmore, Tuva Moen, Myung-Jin You, Jessica Clough-MacRae and Kristoffer Egset. Whilst I’m greatly impressed by the cast’s slick choreography and physical sequences, I think their comedy could use some work.
The show is set in the year 2100, Earth has been destroyed and just one man remains. Whilst we follow him on his journey to save the human race, he is joined by a number of strange characters, wonderfully brought to life by the talented troupe. Cut Mustard consists of five actors, each of whom has graduated from the Lecoq school in Paris, who use their training to deftly embody a host of zany characters. Their voice and movement work is outstanding, bending, twisting, hissing and tumbling to create a vivid sense of an alien future. Unfortunately for a comedy show, I don’t ever find myself really laughing.
There are a number of chuckle-worthy moments, and maybe it’s the size of the stage that is the issue. It feels like a lot of their energy is sucked up by the vacuous space around them, with their voices floating over the audience’s heads rather than hitting us in the face. Perhaps in a smaller space the intensity of the work would feel more impactful. There is no doubt that these five are talented performers, with wonderfully malleable faces and elastic bodies, I just want them to have a bit more fun with each other; to pick each other up when energy lagged and really squeeze the humour out through a sense of play that is vital to find when working in a comedy company. There are clear parallels between Cut Mustard’s style and that of devised comedy companies like The Sleeping Trees, whose own show, Sci-Fi, is a perfect example of how to incorporate impressive physical sequences but also leave an audience in hysterics.
The narrative too feels a little scattered. There are a few moments where something happens and I’m left wondering how or why. The story jumps from place to place, often forgetting to let the audience know where they’re going or how they’re going to get there. I think some initial world building would greatly improve the show, to set up the stakes and parameters of the stories’ universe so the audience isn’t left wondering how exactly the bad guy got beat.
Having said that, there are some excellent moments. All of their movement sequences are beautifully crafted and when Moen removes her ski mask there is a brilliant comic surprise waiting underneath (you’ll have to see it to find out what is is). I also enjoy the choice to create a lot of the sound on stage, with You manipulating a keyboard to great effect. Dugmore is particularly funny as the last remaining human, whilst Clough-MacRae and Egset create some spectacularly flexible robots. The group employ a number of impressive techniques, from mime to operatic singing, but for me, a more cohesive storyline and an injection of fun might do wonders for this intergalactic romp.
2100: A Space Novelty played at The Old Market as part of Brighton Fringe until 18 May. For more information, visit the Brighton Fringe website.