503Fusions at Theatre503
There’s little to tie the four performances that make up 503Fusions together. Disparate pieces of experimental theatre cover love, loss, technological progression and a scattershot of other themes across a variety of disciplines, including one-person plays, spoken word poetry and musical theatre. The setting is London, and it’s the only element that brings the four narratives in line, with varying degree of success.
The first play, falling somewhere between storytelling and spoken word poetry, has its moments. Above a synthesised soundscape, Karis Halsall recreates a fragment of life on the London underground after hours. An experience with an old friend who remains oblivious to her presence provokes a flurry of contrasting but legitimate emotions that are tough to reconcile. But when the focus shifts from a moment to a series of memories the performance becomes less intellectually challenging and more just difficult to follow.
Brighton-born Tommy Sissons’ spoken word performance replaces any form of narrative function with a musical backing that occasionally drowns out his message. The message itself is broad and haphazard: the central theme of violence among young people in London’s poorer boroughs is drowned out by amusing but irrelevant imagery and talk of childhood appendicitis. Sissons’ outrage seems genuine and it’s certainly justified, but his anger lacks refinement to the point of fumbling into white noise.
Following the first two melancholy performances, Gemma Rogers and co’s melodious tale of the rebirth of a Londoner is a welcome breath of fresh air. It takes the form of a musical, happily playing off the clichés of the genre, and focusing on a character seemingly constructed solely from the pairs of glasses that are occasionally donned. Rogers’ raspy voice is far from operatic, and a couple of songs have to begin again after false starts, but the play is comedically shambolic in a way that builds engagement with the story of positive female friendship.
The final performance falls somewhere between all of the above, with humour, impassioned pleas and a scenario in miniature. The talented Deanna Rogers creates a believable scene, and ties it together with an interesting astrological metaphor, but gets bogged down in attempts to use half-explained scientific theory to illustrate cod philosophy. 503Fusions is a real mash-up.
Joe Manners Lewis
503Fusions is on at Theatre503 until 17th January 2015, for further information or to book visit here.