I’ve seen some weird stuff in my time. I like weird. I love surreal (have you met my daughter?). So, when my mate suggested popping along to see Flesh and Blood & Fish and Fowl at the Barbican Pit Theatre when we were too late to get tickets to see Anaconda as part of The Bad Film Club, I thought “Hell, why not!?”
Soooo, what can I say about this play? I was truly lost for words by the end of it. I really wasn’t sure how to take it, what to make of it all.
Reading the Director’s Notes, it seems that the inspiration for it came when a photographer went to Pripyat in the Ukraine, to take photos of an ex-Soviet ghost town, 20 years after the Chenobyl disaster. The area had become a post-apocalyptic Eden, with the town looking like it had just been abandoned – dried up coffee cups left on the counters in offices, among open notebooks and over-turned chairs. and all around, nature was reclaiming the space. Plants were growing into the buildings, animals were happily wandering around undisturbed and birds were nesting in filing cabinet drawers.
I can see where this influenced the play – the set is a dilapidated convenience store admin office. There are gaping holes in the ceilings, walls and floors, vines and other plants are stealthily growing during the length of the play, and rather odd stuffed animals pop up periodically when not expected.
It starts when Jerry emerges (from a large wheelie bin!) rather ruffled but dressed in his work clothes, tidies himself up and sits at his desk. He is eventually joined by Rhonda, his colleague who obviously fancies him, but he finds repulsive. They are the only people in the whole thing.
The majority of the play is physical comedy with hardly any script. A lot of it was quite amusing, but there were some very hit and miss parts. Some of it descended into slapstick, and some of it was just WEIRD!! Too weird even for me to find accessible.
There was a whole excruciating part where they were simulating sex in the wheelie bin where I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit.
Of course, as you’d expect, it doesn’t end well, and nature is the natural victor!
This had great reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – but personally, I am still torn. I wouldn’t tell anyone NOT to go and see it, but I would certainly be advising them that it’s a bit ‘odd’. 🙂