Studio 104, See Base Of Can

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Skipping effortlessly from Albert Einstein to Busby Berkeley via Alice in Wonderland, Studio 104 create a montage of textbites and images that are simultaneously a rant against, and fond tribute to, the icons of Western culture. Thus, we meet a Hamlet whose procrastination has internalised to the point of dumbness; escapees from Brief Encounter who vie horribly to outdo each others’ gestures of self-sacrifice; and a woman who plugs the TV jack-lead straight into her vein. See Base Of Can is a ninety-minute-long tower of babble that swerves from quantum theory to pop culture, giving credence to Robert Anton Wilson’s theory of synchronicity and organised chaos. Reality is what you can get away with – or, in writer/devisor Andy Johnson’s words, ‘an attempt to reach beyond the point of endurance to a golden space’.

The combination of scripted and devised material drawn from a variety of sources, some autobiographical, is not dissimilar to the process used by Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells: both writers share an ability to create strong performance texts that are outside of the conventional theatre script or play. The ten-strong ensemble work relentlessly, leaving the audience full to the brink and gasping for a drink. See Base Of Can is not for the faint-hearted, and there are parts of the show that could be tightened-up, most crucially the first fifteen minutes. But as a production that appeals equally to mind, senses and spirit it was not only the first but also the best of the shows I saw at Komedia’s Theatre of the Imagination Festival.

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This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 24