As soon as I was attacked with the all-pervasive smell of toast, I knew The Crypt Project was going to be a surreal one. Under the company of People Show and in collaboration with the University of Roehampton students and ALRA, the production focused on ritual and how it fits into daily life. Indeed, where else to do it but in the crypt of a church that is over 120 years old?
The location itself, under St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Paddington, is absolutely beautiful. I think it’s one of those places that really helped bring the production to life. A lot of the time I found myself just looking around at the scenery because the architecture was so interesting. If you go for nothing else, go for that.
Most of its scenes were not explained, and you had to draw conclusions from your own experience; a desk in the corner of the room goes completely unused, as does an area tied up with red string. This attention to detail is what made me really appreciate the piece – it’s reflective of real life. You don’t really know what’s going on until you wake up to the smell of toast in the morning.
Moving on to the show itself. The two Estragon and Vladimir-type characters at the beginning added a nice touch to the performance, which I thought was an artistic little nod to Beckett. Whilst I thought the beginning generally was fairly weak, it certainly got stronger as it went on. I say this because I’ve done performances like this before, and it felt like I’d seen the first half in other shows. What really pulled it up was a moment when we were sat down on church pews, our view obscured to only the top half of the actors’ bodies, altering our perspective of the performance at every moment. It was something I’d never seen before, and this is what increased its originality; it manipulated the senses, and made us question ourselves as viewers.
Most of the performance was a group effort, and it has to be applauded as it certainly looked physically challenging; what they had to do with their bodies was actually quite difficult, and they used the space well. However, standout performances have to go to Minna-Triin Kohv and Laura Nemeiksyte. Kohv’s physical endurance stood out amongst the others, and I was drawn towards Nemiksyte’s presence.
Overall it was an experience, and it made you feel something, be that good or bad. Just watch out for that pig mask.
People Show 128: The Crypt Project played at St Mary Magdalene Church, Paddington. For more information, see the People Show website.