Chris Thorpe: Status

Status reverberates with quality throughout its several artfully combined mediums: the observational precision of the writing, embodied and articulate delivery, mood-altering soundscape and subtly shifts visuals. Indeed, Chris Thorpe would seem to have become a virtuoso performer in a genre of his own devising, albeit with a great deal of help from his collaborators. With his distinctive northern twang and artfully meandering narratives, he recounts the post-Brexit wanderings of a man called Chris, on a quest to find answers, or simply to get away from this national disaster.

This Chris, he insists, is not him, though as with so much of the telling, one suspects he is purposefully playing with our assumptions and expectations.   A drunken encounter with heavy-handed police in a Serbian bar leads him to realise that his identity as a British national provides a shield of protection he perhaps would rather not have. He journeys to Monument Valley on a quest to bury his passport, where a First Nation guide rebukes him for littering, and a talking Coyote seemingly claims to be from East Berlin. I may be mistaken about that bit – the frames within frames shift so quickly its possible to lose the plot as one goes off on ones own little reflective tangents.  I suspect he may have been on Peyote.

In Singapore he meets an ex-American crypto-currency dealer who claims to have escaped from national identity, and a talking cardboard cut-out advising him to take care on the escalators. It’s a kind of magical realism delivered in a punk performance prose style, cleverly varied by the use of some sung-spoken sections accompanied by his own live grunge guitar playing. The running theme is nationhood, and the constructed lines on the map and in our minds that cut across and parcel up the continuity of the global landscape into owned domains.

This Chris doesn’t like that. He sees the damage it does and it disturbs him. And yet this dense, thought-provoking swirl of recollections and reflections conveys a sense of his own befuddlement rather than offering a roadmap to solutions. One thing that struck was the fact that whilst all the other characters we encounter have jobs and roles and backgrounds, we get to know nothing of these about the Chris that isn’t Chris Thorpe. Perhaps he is simply a professional artist seeking experiences to make into a show? And what also seemed omitted were encounters with the working class masses that voted to Leave, which would surely make for a great part two to this undeniably accomplished if head-spinning odyssey.  It’s certainly a show that could be seen several times given the rich complexity of ideas.




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About Matt Rudkin

Matt Rudkin is a theatre maker and teacher who creates work as Inconvenient Spoof. He has a BA in Creative Arts, an MA in Performance Studies, and studied with Philippe Gaulier (London), and The Actors Space (Spain). He was founder and compere of Edinburgh’s infamous Bongo Club Cabaret, concurrently working as maker and puppeteer with The Edinburgh Puppet Company. He has toured internationally as a street theatre performer with The Incredible Bull Circus, and presented more experimental work at The Green Room, CCA, Whitstable Biennale, ICA, Omsk and Shunt Lounge. He is also a Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Visual Art at the University of Brighton.