Cheese at Floor OneCultureTheatre
While inventive and unique in its exploration of the complexities of the economic downfall with an analogy based on a dairy product, Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe’s production of Cheese by Nikki Schreiber is awfully hard to digest.
When the “cheese crisis” hits, deliveries stop, reserves diminish and Joe and Freya find themselves left with nothing but their Emmental home. In pursuit of a new food source, Freya leaves her partner to find alternative options while Joe is convinced that there is more cheese to be had, if only he can find it. On a journey through a cheese tunnel maze, Joe is faced with moral dilemmas and challenges as he encounters some curious characters that lead him to a greater understanding of the circumstances of his dire situation.
Although Jon Foster and Rachel Donovan are animated and lively in their performances, the story arc the production follows is haphazard and the mixed metaphors create a narrative that is weak and too puerile to be taken seriously. Initially, the content is presented in a very lighthearted fashion with our couple playfully discussing recipes for fondue, with Joe refusing to break convention as “this is how it’s always been done,” seemingly referring to the widely accepted way in which business is conducted. But as Joe continues his adventure, the tone grows sombre when gambling and murder are afoot. However, the recurring inapt allusion to cheese prohibits you from identifying with the characters and the conflicts that arise.
Furthermore, the relaxed way in which the actors break character by interacting with staging staff and signal their own musical queues throughout the performance is distracting and intrusive to the overall experience. It also seems as though there was little forethought to staging as scenes when actors are sitting are obstructed for all audience members not within the first few rows, given the layout of the location.
Despite many disappointments, the venue itself is purposeful, with the bleak atmosphere of an unused office space on the high street effectively contributing to the theme of the failures of the financial services industry. Moderately decorated in mourning of the death of the London Mortgage Company, “R.I.P L.M.C, 12.4.01-19.9.08,” printed on invitations that unfold into the program, the attention to detail is an interesting touch.
But all in all, like an over ripe Munster, this production leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
Photos: Conrad Blakemore
Cheese is on at Floor One until 28th September 2013, for further information or to book visit here.