Reality is a performance that has been scripted from the devised creations of the Bridge Theatre Company, a group of BRIT school graduates who have formed a theatre company through a course to experience the reality of performing in a professional atmosphere. They devised the characters, writer Georgia Fitch and director Sarah Bedi then created a piece from these characters. The show’s concept is about reality television and the harsh truth of auditioning for a platform that determines for someone to be ‘admirable’ in order to be successful. A harsh concept, yet one that thousands of people audition for each year. In the present day cult of modernisation of reality television and exploitation, this piece is incredibly relevant in terms of looking at the humanity of the process, and how this sometimes painful truth is glamorised by the media, publicity and prize money.
I walk into the auditorium and think “Yes! A show that’s completely in the round!” This particular staging design is brave and can be difficult to pull off; but when it is used effectively, exploring the space in an intricate and exciting way, it causes the performance to be extremely watchable. This is exactly what the Bridge Theatre Company achieves with Reality. With clever use of camera work incorporated in a vast use of the space, I was able to admire the detail in the performance.
Fitch has done a great job in the writing, as the characters often overlap with each other but in a very polished way. It seems very natural, but we can appreciate the difficulty of rehearsing something as complex as this. The story reminds me of a cross between Big Brother and The Hunger Games, as it heightens the exploitation involved in reality television, and makes the audience question the spectrum of where reality entertainment turns into physical and/or psychological torture. There are moments throughout that I found very upsetting and disturbing, but I could still not take my eyes off the performance. The only negative thing in terms of the plot, is that the performance could have ended sooner in the story, as the last section is not as effective as the main body of the piece (despite Sacha Roselli’s believable performance in this section).
As for the rest of the cast, I was so impressed by the obvious talent that fills the room. Izo FitzRoy has evidently worked very well with the cast, as the accents are very authentic from all cast members (I couldn’t really tell you who was putting on an accent and who wasn’t!). Cameron Essam is brilliant from start to finish, his mannerisms of nervousness never dropping throughout, and he is extremely believable. Jack Stimpson gives a great portrayal of the sadistic boss, demonstrating his clear disturbances that create this evil persona without turning him into a pantomime villain. I also really liked the erratic style of Gus Gordon’s character, although I feel that this is sometimes a little forced, and if toned down a little would be more believable and would show more levels of his character. As for the girls in the production, it is so hard to pick just a few to mention, as each one of them brings brilliant aspects to their characters, which make for a very diverse performance. I don’t feel as though the cast members are trying to outshine each other (despite the fact that the characters themselves are), and the company gels together really well.
It is evident that the Bridge Theatre Company have worked very hard to achieve such a polished performance, and it reflects a high standard that is achieved by this programme and the BRIT school in general. I wish the cast the best of luck in their future training, as it is clear that they are all capable of achieving successful careers in the arts in the future.
Reality is playing at the Ovalhouse until 27 June. For more information and tickets, see the Ovalhouse website.