This is a response to your show External which is a response to the show Internal by Ontroerend Goed. It would be fair to state that this response to your response, in the form of this slightly mocking review, will not be the best of the reviews you will receive. In fact, to take away any hurt, anger, or upset you might experience when reading this, I suggest that you sit down, breathe deeply and thirdly (and most importantly) don’t forget that I am not stealing this sort of response from other more well known mock responders. This reflects External, where everything you do is punctuated with explanation.
External as a response piece tests us as an audience. It does so from the minute you stare absent mindedly into the audience which, under the house lights of the Soho Theatre Upstairs, remains exposed and demanding entertainment. We expected a performance and the excitement of a new emerging company. Instead we received self-indulgence. Just as this response to External is self-indulgent to the reviewer, External for you as GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, is a piece that doesn’t give to or take anything from its audience. It’s a passive response, not a provocative demand. It is presented as a post-modern depiction of a response within a piece of theatre, within an auditorium, with an expected audience. Your attempts at deconstructing the scenes of your show into Jen’s version and Lucy’s version leave the audience with little to grasp onto, not even a letter to take home. At least in Internal you leave with a letter.
You present us with the time remaining of External on placards – these only make us want to have the 55 minutes of your response come to an end. It is 55 minutes of life that has no purpose, no entertainment, and no meaning beyond the small performance space you show us with waving arms. It lives, it dances and it dies. Lucy, you dance well, and Jen, you stare beautifully, but your story was too episodic. I wanted to love you, I did, but all I got from you was frustration. Your response in External that feeds in references to other companies such as Forced Entertainment is clever, but is it too internal? If your response is to use other responses as a way of drawing out your own response, what of the audience? What if they have never seen Forced Entertainment, what if they have never seen Internal?
At this point, I would like to tell you a secret. Please don’t tell anyone else, because I don’t want the surprised ruined, but… I’ve never seen Internal. Perhaps revealing this secret makes it all too clear that you expected too much from me. That as someone who has not seen Internal I can not see External without being bemused. Perhaps it’s an in joke. Perhaps it reflects the questions raised, and the questions not raised when a Belgium-based company reveals all its secrets to a group of strangers. Perhaps External is about the moment after the performance, when the audience responds to you after they’ve left the theatre. Perhaps you’ve actually crafted something that represents a look at how these companies have pushed their audiences to the point where they are willing to just accept and clap anything. Perhaps you don’t know. Perhaps we’re not meant to know either. Perhaps as your personas meet on stage, and collide over who says what, when and how, the truth is, GETINHEBACKOFTHEVAN can’t find a way of saying all of this because it’s all been said before. Perhaps nothing is original anymore, and we’re all stealing from each other. Perhaps I should just shut up now.
Frustrated and exasperated, this is the end of my response. Other audiences can see External at the Soho Theatre Upstairs until 17th September, but be warned, GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN is Marmite, and I hate Marmite.
All the best,