DIGS at the Pleasance Theatre
Fresh off yet another stellar season at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Pleasance Theatre isn’t slowing down, revealing its inaugural Litmus Fest at its London home on Caledonian Road. Carefully selecting six of the most promising theatre companies in the country, Pleasance has given each group the chance to present a work in progress following two weeks of research and development on the topics and themes of their choice.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of sampling DIGS by Theatre By Legs (in association with Etch), an exploration of what “home” means when homes are no longer owned properties but shared spaces. The piece is written and performed by Theatre By Legs’ co-founders Lucy Bairstow and Jess Murrain and takes in a whole host of forms including poetry, monologue, duologue, sketch and, impressively, some Reggie Watts-style music.
At times Bairstow and Murrain seem to be channeling the domestic bite of Victoria Wood, at others the linguistic playfulness of Caryl Churchill. In its very best moments, the weird rituals of shared living, where something as basic as drying clothes can be either calamitous or cathartic, take on a sublime absurdity. Of course the downside of witnessing a work in progress is that, well, it’s a work in progress, and while DIGS is remarkably well-formed for an ostensibly unfinished piece, it nevertheless can’t completely avoid some flabbiness and incoherence during its roughly 70-minute running time.
Part of what is so great about the Litmus Fest is that it allows younger voices to break through, dealing with issues – like the mental and physical toll of sharing your life cheek to jowl with strangers – that might struggle to be heard in some of the larger spaces in London. The other shows on offer are just as intriguing: SKELETONS tackles the idea of failure in a perfection-obsessed world; Project A deals with the shocking truth that in 2016 Northern Ireland remains the sole member of the UK immune from the 1967 Abortion Act; Left My Desk At Cresent House, the “one woman show about caring”, explores the geographic exploration of love Trench and the multi-media Modern Love.
In the 60th year of the Royal Court’s existence, it’s heartening to see that its ethos extends outside Sloane Square and is alive and kicking in the delightful Pleasance Theatre.
DIGS is at the Pleasance Theatre from 27th and 28th September 2016, for further information or to book a visit here.
To check out the rest of the Litmus Fest visit here.
Watch the trailer for DIGS below: