Streaming at the Pleasance
Pipeline Theatre’s Streaming stands very sturdily on a tripod of fantastic writing, flawless character acting and innovative set design. So prepared, it creates a piece of theatre of such startling depth and rawness that it is impossible to come away from it unchanged.
Following the death of her mother and the loss of their lavish lifestyle, Rosa and her father Toby move into a shabby flat where they attempt to reassemble their lives from the rubble. They meet neighbour Candy, an agoraphobic glamour-puss who spends all day in her flat, entertaining strangers via her webcam – or “camming”, as she calls it. Toby writes her off immediately and suggests that his daughter steer clear of her, but Rosa and Candy grow steadily closer while Toby spirals into ever more crippling alcoholism. Rosa begins to make some out-of-character decisions, to Toby’s despair – but any paternal authority has long since been lost.
Woven through this story is the parallel tale of The Wizard of Oz, which Toby references to with increasing frequency, to the point of delirium. From a Follow the Yellow Brick Road ringtone to the appearance of a masturbating flying monkey, the skewed allusions range from touching to comical to sinister. Humour is a veneer that covers a dark and desolate isolation. You’ll laugh at the characters’ idiosyncrasies, drawn in only to be cut all the deeper by the pain their predicament wreaks upon them. At times, Streaming is almost unbearable to watch.
In most aspects this piece is a tragedy, but there are also touches of horror as the misery manifests itself in some uniquely unsettling moments. These are where the set and lighting truly shine. The drearily papered walls of the flat double up as projector screens, or turn transparent to reveal ghosts from the past. Tricks like a magician’s sleight-of-hand make props appear unexpectedly where a second before there was nothing. One moment that lingers is Toby being caressed by disembodied arms as he sinks into his armchair.
Writer Jon Welch’s three disparate characters are fully rounded and subtly nuanced. Kyla Goodey is perfect as neurotic Candy; Angus Brown’s determinedly cheery Toby is flawless. Anna Munden is wonderful as Rosa, employing a voice that inflects upwards at the end of every sentence – the pretension of youth tinged with a child’s anxious inquisitiveness.
By casting a delirious eye on family dysfunction, isolation and how these are endured, Pipeline Theatre have created something devastatingly beautiful.
Streaming is on at Pleasance Theatre until 30th November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.