Nigel Charnock and Company, asylum

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

Nigel Charnock is up to his usual tricks; laying himself and his obsessions bare-assed on the stage for the culture vultures to pick at: crucifixion on the road to redemption. In his new show asylum he takes this self-analysis to a logical next stage by creating a piece about analysis itself – detaching himself a little more from the process by assembling a cast of five alter-egos. Confession, co-dependency and coming out are tussled over and toyed with by this cast who role-play and role-reverse in a riotous orgy of song, dance and deconstructed dialogue. No corner of the subconscious is left unswept; all is laid bare then re-dressed in new boots and panties.

Everything fell into place when I read RD Laing’s name in the credits – who else but the enfant terrible of psychoanalysis could be the inspiration for this provocative piece of play-acting. The production toys with form and teases us into re-evaluation of our assumptions about both reality itself and theatrical representation of realities. The company describes the results as ‘a transgressive musical, a blend of theatre and anti-theatre’.

The performance text flows easily from one form of expression to another. Sound and movement interact, sometimes resonating together, sometimes in counterpoint to create a symphony of human expression. All five performers are as talented a bunch as you are likely to see gathered on one stage – I felt the ghosts of Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers echoing throughout. After two hours, I left the auditorium exhilarated and wanting more. Sometimes too much is not enough.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 25