The People Show, People Show 106

Review in Issue 10-4 | Winter 1998

In their thirty-plus year history, the People Show has garnered a reputation for challenging, exciting and provocative new work devised and presented by an eclectic mix of performers and artists. This latest offering is a dense and confusing piece, populated by a number of bizarre characters seemingly thrown unexpectedly together in the kitsch glamour of the Wessex Rooms’ bar.

Presented as a series of isolated narratives, the show has little dramatic structure to speak of and generally disregards theatrical conventions to opt instead for a cockney cabaret kind of format. Different characters (a murderous adolescent, an excitable Middle Eastern guide, a drunken bar fly, an awful electric guitar and pub singer combo) spend the duration of the piece doing not much of interest at all; occasionally spicing up the action with much faux eroticism and licking of furniture. This, no doubt, is intended to be tongue in cheek, but the tongue and the cheek don’t quite meet and it becomes not only dull to watch but also embarrassing at times.

This lack of clarity of intention is the biggest flaw. This kind of work, which hovers between theatre and performance art, inevitably demands that audiences reconsider how they appraise performance. To criticise it for lack of structure, narrative or logic is to miss the point. But if an audience is left unsure whether to laugh with the performers or at them, then one inevitably wonders for whom the work is being made.

On the strength of this piece, I’m amazed the People Show has clocked up over a hundred works. Yet, paradoxically, I am left awaiting People Show 107 with anticipation. Maybe I just missed the point after all.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-4
p. 20