Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Changed Priorities, 3hird Wheel Theatre Company,
Platform One, 11 May

Three actors play more than ten characters in an absurd drama through a mixture of fast-paced physical comedy, caricature and musical.

The inhabitants of the small quiet town of ‘Noware’ include a grumpy war veteran, two irate farmers, a landlord-cum-policeman and reverend, gossipy housewives, three kids Beth, Steff and Jeff, a village idiot, and a vain but dim ‘Mayor Har’ and his advisor ‘Mr Who’. When Attacus Hooft, a town planner with visions of grandeur arrives with his pretty daughter Anna, he convinces Mayor Har that Noware needs speed bumps, one-way systems and speed limits to make everyone speak slowly to avoid confusion. Hooft soon realises that you just can’t control human beings as his plans comically come unstuck.

Platform One is an intimate venue and well suited to this production. It was a pity that so few people turned up to the opening night as the actors put so much energy into the performance. The simple stage design was effective in helping the audience use their imaginations; orange poles and red wooden circles became road signs, roundabouts, tables, wheelchairs and bars. Each actor wore simple white shirts with khaki green trousers. The simple prop of a bright green scarf was used to differentiate the characters depending on how it was worn; as headscarf, bar towel, scarf, skirt and handkerchief, or even vomit. The way in which the actors wove themselves around each other and swapped characters, re-wrapping scarves and swooping around the stage was perfectly seamless and convincing: just like a three-man comic dance.

The musical highlight of the show was a rendition of ‘My favourite things’ from The Sound of Music: lines relating to town planning were cleverly matched to the original song. For example, “pelican, puffin and zebra crossings/L-plates to tell us that drivers are learning/these are a few of my favourite things.”

Changed Priorities is worth seeing but a little pricey at £8. However it’s cleverly choreographed and acted, and though a little too long, certainly holds the attention and is original and funny.

Changed Priorities is at Platform One, Polar Central Bar, Queens Road until 15 May.


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