Replicate performed by Bedlam Theatre.
Victoria Theatre, Halifax.
By Derek Greenwood
Original, as ever, Lee Barnes shuffled us, not backstage, but onto the stage, where we waited with baited something or other, in serried, benched ranks fronted by the reverse side of a curtain, moved by industrial music in echo format, nobody surprised, justly mildly intrigued and expectant.
Were we guinea pigs? Was it a play? How should we respond? There was drama of a vaguely unfathomable kind, at least at the starting line!
Sebastian Soul, obsessed with replicating the perfect key, inhabits a mythical, tree-strewn landscape, with ‘filth and fear’ hiding in the undergrowth.
A gothicy and shadowy tale, more ‘gormenghastly absurd’ than ‘poeishly suggestive’, but with a nodding inclination to myth and legend in the ‘Grimmish’ style, all centred on the creating of ‘skeleton keys’, the unfathomable and sudden appearance of giant trees and faint memory of a not-forgotten ‘skeleton’, as our ‘hero’, Sebastian, journeyman and key-replicator, with a backward glance, first meets the imaginative Casey Sole, daughter of the Lord of the Land, from which ensues – you guessed it, a bloody fishy tale, boned and filleted in astonishing detail and battered to within a millimetre of its last turn.
But should we take a bow or should we applaud, were we cast or audience?
Released into the moderate hedonism of a mid-evening Thursday in town-centre Halifax, we adjusted to our respective roles, some with ease, some with relief, some reluctantly, after a creative adventure of unusual ilk and storyline.