‘Pappy Show’ is a Caribbean phrase which means ‘silliness or foolishness or messing around’. Therefore, with the physical theatre company The Pappy Show’s VAULT Festival debut ‘BOYS’, a lot of fun and playfulness was to be anticipated.
However, the only foolish thing about the piece was the poor sightline arrangement. This silly, small minor technical factor which wasn’t properly acknowledged, sadly ruined the impact of the whole piece. With the theatre not having raised seating in an isacoustic curve design, audience members near the mid or further back in the theatre cannot actually see the performers. This is remedied by theatre-makers using elevated platforms or scenery. But, by opting for a bare stage… there’s quite a lot that the audience cannot actually see if they are not positioned in the front row. So, whenever the performers crouch down or do something on the floor the audience undergoes a fearless Mexican wave effect of giraffe neck occurs.
It gets to a point where the audience members in the middle and the back of the theatre become uninterested in the action on stage. In fact, a sunflower growing competition takes place where they entertainingly see how far high they can crane their necks in order to see the performance.
I so wanted to be hook, lined and sinkered in.
The rhythmic music vivaciously danced through my eardrums, but the rhythm of whatever was happening on stage – remained on stage. Oh, and with the front row!
The interspersed vignette-like dynamic permitted the performers to launch into songs, raves, physical realms and more...
The performers left the stage beautifully funny, charismatic, committed and charming fashion. What was nice to see was the support across all of their faces. This cast really was a supportive team and it really brought them joy to tell the stories of their brothers, fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Being a BAME cast, the concept of having a ‘paintbox of manhood’, which tied stories all across the globe into one is provocative in itself. It’s definitely ripe for physical theatre exploration.
It was all perfectly laid out on a plate and I really wanted to let myself feel connected.
Clearly a lot of hard work had been put into the piece both in rehearsal and on stage. Therefore, it feels quite saddening that these important issues are not reaching further.
Best of luck for the future.
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