The Gogmagogs, Gobbledygook

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

The idea of seven virtuoso string players performing physical theatre (instruments constantly on the go) is bizarre enough. Add commissions for text and music from unusual pairings of writers and composers (e.g. Patrick Barlow and Django Bates, Caryl Churchill and Orlando Gough) and you have a recipe for a highly unorthodox hybrid. The Gogmagogs have already made an impact with a groundbreaking style that integrates the energy and physicality of string playing with the dynamics of theatre performance. Now they add words for the first time and it’s an intoxicating brew.

Although scripted, Gobbledygook has the feel of devised theatre, partly due to the way individual sections are strung together but also to the sense of a strong and committed ensemble who are as physically sensitive to each other as they are musically. And there’s certainly a sense of an organic collaborative process behind the work, that the wit and invention comes from the performers’ response to the material. Director Lucy Bailey has an astute eye for visual composition and the underlying rhythms of performance. The pulse never dies in this piece, the performers are always on that magnetic edge where you feel anything can happen.

The Gogmagogs are all highly skilled musicians, some of the troupe have worked with Monica Pagneux and the assistant director, Alex Murdoch, has worked with Gaulier. The instruments never leave their hands except in the section by Neil Innes, a sequence of ‘telly-scenes’ which resemble drama student improvisations. I found this the weakest contribution, redeemed in part by the ‘required’ audience participation which clearly made an impact on some spectators. The rest was pure delight: music, text and action – total theatre from consummate musicians.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 24