Review of The King’s Company’s production of ‘The MobilePhone Show’ by Jim Cartwright and ‘The Grandfathers’ by Rory Mullarkey in the Hayward Theatre on Thursday 21st February 2013

The King’s Company certainly knows how to put on a good piece of drama. Working from a script without any indications of stage directions, this band of talented performers created a highly entertaining and intriguing flow of varied scenes inspired by our relationship with the mobile phone. This must be the first time the opening announcements included asking the audience to keep their phones ON! The mobile phone users scaled the heights and depths of emotions that the instrument engenders. Passions ranged widely and grew readily from reverential worship, nerdy competitiveness, a texting shootout, a natter on an ingenious toilet, dallying with the supernatural, romance, poetic invention, reassurance, teenage troubles, adverts, competitions, when one loses the phone, a  rap or two, rioting youths, and the suffering caused when the phone’s battery and the phone eventually dies.

The scenes rolled smoothly from one into another and the delightful inventiveness of this company developed highly entertaining episodes. When a teenager despairs about losing her phone the antics of a highly credible fish surrounded by weeds in a so-called fishbowl had the audience in stitches, while the angst of the character was never lost. Dances and scenes explored the contrast of darkness and light very effectively. The familiar sounds of a mobile phone were ever-present: metallic music, beeps trills and unexpected calls from among the audience. The highly appropriate choice of background music to events also helped to make this a positively wonderful production. The texting ‘shoot out’ was particularly memorable.

The second play, ‘The Grandfathers’ ,was on the more serious side and the cast managed to bring home the dreadfulness of how the youth of society become mere pawns in horrific wars that our flawed society continues to make. The issue of loyalty in an environment that insists on these young recruits becoming killers, the problem of caring for the weak symbolized by the brief arrival of an injured bird into the barracks, and the hopes and fears of the soldiers as individuals were sympathetically explored. Again, the stage movements were inspired and smoothly executed; the thoughts and actions of the group seamlessly entwined as the scenes unfolded.  The Directors, Laura Day and Chris Thacker, and the Producer Adella Charlton, are to be congratulated for a wonderful evening of pure drama from a fine young troupe of players.

The Mobile Phone Show will be performed again in Norwich in April 2013

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