Stolen Kisses / Pounds, Dollars and Cents, Octopus Pie

Review in Issue 10-4 | Winter 1998

The company describe Octopus Pie as the 'unearthing of a play as we see it', and they certainly have dug around in this new piece of writing by Oliver Snowball, and pulled out something quite interesting. Two young performers (Edward de Chazal and Emma Louise) tread carefully over a black wooden grid. They construct the performance space whilst the audience take their seats. The patterned squares which form the set are slowly rearranged during the course of the show, until each segment is in its rightful place. The unfolding of the plot is not nearly as simple.

Taking a full-length absurdist comedy set at a family dinner party, the company investigate how the play works, and in the process create a physical and visual experiment in theatrical form. What the audience see are fragments of the original text, viewed through different lenses. The structure of the dinner party and its characters are removed, but fragments of dialogue and key moments of conflict and miscommunication remain.

It's interesting to see a company's view of the bare bones of a piece of writing and the performers push notions of rhythm and timing to the limit. The opening phrase lasts a torturously long time as de Chazal builds up a sentence one word at a time with a deep breath and rotation of the arms between each. Another fragment of dialogue is repeated so many times the original meaning is lost. The audience is forced to look closely at the dinner party – a familiar theatrical device – and see its inherent dramatic possibilities.

This is a very clever exercise, but the superficiality of the material itself prevents it being much more than that.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-4
p. 24