The Victorian in the Wall at the Royal Court
This little 95-minute production by Fuel Theatre is adorably funny and easy to watch. A flat is created on a tape marked floor and the sounds of its surroundings and goings on are played live onstage using props and the actors’ voices. Will Adamsdale directs, writes and plays our leading man, Guy – a writer who doesn’t actually write but relies on a short story award he won in 1998 to justify his existence.
His despairing girlfriend, Fi (Melanie Wilson) leaves Guy to watch over the builders doing a “knock through” job to expand their flat. Unfortunately, Wilson lacks energy and expression, despite the easygoing nature of the piece; her part is swallowed by the hilarious, powerfully charged male ensemble who multi-role throughout. Chris Branch plays builder Rob and also eloquently musically underscores on a piano – he’s a charming player. Matthew Steer’s Mr Elms (the Victorian discovered living in the knocked through wall) is sufficiently controlled, and his naivety charms. The excellent Jason Barnett supports the piece brilliantly, and is particularly humorous as the annoying barking dog next door, until he charges onstage as his main character – the adopted, rather adult son from West Africa who Guy mistakenly signed up for when supporting the charity Crisis Child.
The brilliance of this piece is the accepting attitude of the characters. The plot is so farfetched that the playfulness of the actors is the only way to convince an audience, and we happily play along. The piece still has an amateur feel in its approach, and strikes as a an absolute sell-out in a fringe venue, but despite its easy comedy and accessibility there’s still an edge to it that seems forced and not quite professional.
Despite this, its comment on our ever evolving laziness (apparent in society where we feel owed a successful future, rather than earning it) does make you want to hop on a Boris Bike and storm through town, loving and appreciating the fact that you can. As Guy’s new son preaches: “It’s better to do something wrong, then do nothing at all.”
The Victorian in the Wall is at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court until 8th June 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the promotional video for The Victorian in the Wall here: