RoguePlay Theatre draw from dance and circus, calling themselves ‘high physical theatre’ artists, often using aerial skills in their work. 3am Waitress, directed by Kim Charnock, is a tempered-down version of what it could be. Two café tables dress the space, one with three paper cups and two sugar servers, and one with a radio and a clock. Time has stopped, a radio jumps, a table is dressed and undressed. Anna Fook, a lone dancer, clears tables in a café throughout the night as her dreams and realities float and flux in and out of her body and consciousness. A surreal, dark and dreary atmosphere emanates the intimate space in C-Southside, where sporadic dance phrases and a melodic soundtrack punctuate the stillness with movement and words. The recorded spoken word, created by Lorna Meehan has a lovely heavy rhythm as her warm voice describes the world of a late night, roadside café. This text is worthy of performance alone, fluid and imaginative: its consistency is not the backdrop but the main body of the show. Rock and roll music in between the spoken word keeps the dancer and audience from falling off the edge of the world. It is punchy and fun, and on occasion, the dance is too.
The waitress is absorbing and interesting to watch when she dances with wide swooping gestures and attitude turns a la seconde into a swirl of body parts. Sharp dynamics that cut and pounce with anger, and smooth repetitive gestures hypnotise form – a diverse palette of movement of which we only catch a glimpse. A strange man, performed by Tim Clarke, appears on occasion to dance with our anonymous waitress, his presence is unclear as is his relationship with her, but as the work unfolds and they engage in play together, this early tension makes more sense.
Sections of circus tricks on silks and play with rubber tyres are strangers to the work, with no apparent reason to be there. 3am Waitress is slow moving and often boring. It takes ten minutes for the waitress to start moving at the start, and although the work is about the tedium and monotony of waiting tables, it does not need to quite so literal in its interpretation. Its strength lies in the expression of the consequences of this on the waitress, not in the literally miming of sweeping sugar which is given far too much time. The meaty dancing is played down by fillers. Replacing long pauses, sweeping and tidying with sugar and cups with object play, with more of the dance vocabulary that we see in between will transform in to a strong piece.