Lyric Studio Hammersmith, London W6
Opened 24 January, 2002

** More like a rough draft than a finished, fleshed-out show

Told By An Idiot are a brilliantly skilled company, but now and again they stage what look like sketchy ideas rather than complete works.

The story, such as it is, centres on William Mallin, a martinet of a sea-captain during the Napoleonic wars, cast adrift with two crewmen in an open boat (possibly after a mutiny), and experience which turned his mind; scenes of the wooden-legged, half-mad Mallin responding erratically to visits from his wife and the care of a doctor alternate with flashbacks to episodes of the "back story".

Anachronisms abound: bursts of glam-rock punctuate the proceedings, Mallin watches television and sends e-mail. The staging is characteristically inventive, with a simple but versatile set and finely gauged physical performances from core member Paul Hunter (as Mallin) and newcomers Richard Clews and Catherine Marmier.

But it all seems more than a little pointless. The story never quite comes into focus, the ideas even less so. The company's policy of using comic styles of performance to poignant effect is well in evidence, but without conveying a sense of what exactly it is that they're trying to make poignant and why. It's almost as if this was simply something to pass the time before the company's next serious project.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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