Forced Entertainment, The World in Pictures

Review in Issue 19-1 | Spring 2007

In the post-show discussion of The World in Pictures, Forced Entertainment are moved to remind the audience at Manchester’s Contact Theatre that they are adults: ‘We are grown people. You know? Some of us are in our forties,’ they implore, ‘And this is the best we could come up with.’ The mixture of resignation and incredulity with which this is spoken does not seem to be related to some private anguish related to ageing. It is instead an assessment of the company’s latest attempt to tell the History of the World. Insofar as it is such an attempt, the suggestion that it falls short of the mark might be accurate. But as a telling of the retelling of history, it is – as might be expected of such an experienced company – brilliant: articulate, provocative, and carefully crafted.

Beginning in the ambiguous middle ground between performance and non-performance, The World in Pictures proceeds from the Stone Age, via a suicidal leap, Raquel Welch, and a tea dance, to the unimaginable future. The narrator is overwhelmed by the story and the story itself is threatened by its chaotic relationship to those whom it is supposed to describe. With a notable quality of stillness (it’s all in the training), a lone performer, caught in the headlights of history, blinks back at the audience: it becomes clear that the attempt to tell the history of the world has collapsed in a desperate search for a reliable position from which to relate such a story. Unapologetically, the only possible relationship they offer is the certain knowledge that we will all be forgotten. It is a curiously comforting thought.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-1
p. 28