IF you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny. A little pearl of wisdom that fleetingly crossed my mind when the final curtain fell on the Javea Players latest production, ‘One Way Pendulum’ by N J Simpson.
A nanosecond of stunned silence greeted the final line of the play before the audience realised the end had come and applause was due.
A subtle clue that sometime during the evening, the plot and audience had parted company.
Not really surprising as the play was a product of the 1960’s new wave comedy movement known as the Theatre of the Absurd,’ a style that is described as, ‘a convoluted series of meaningless dialogue and nonsensical situations, totally distancing themselves from any form of realism or conventional theatre.’
The cast did a great job in holding the many obscure storyline facets together with pace, conviction and timing, but I suspect that overall, they enjoyed the experience more than their audience.
The plot follows the eccentric misadventures of a family who have their own rather unusual way of doing things.
Mr. Groomkirby is redecorating his living room to resemble a courtroom at the Old Bailey, with a mind toward staging mock trials, complete with Barristers, judge and court officials.
His wife Mabel hates to see leftovers go to waste, so she hires a woman to eat them.
Wheelchair bound Aunt Mildred lives in travel timetable.
Their daughter Sylvia, is fascinated by primates and spends most of her time at the zoo believing her arms are slowly extending to her knees and son Arthur is teaching ‘I speak your weight’ scales to sing as a choir while running around telling people jokes and then killing them with an iron bar.
The original 1964 movie starring Eric Sykes and George Cole received rave reviews and was later considered to be the forerunner of the Monty Python School of humour, but unlike Python, Theatre of the Absurd has not seemingly stood the test of time.
Play selection aside, Director Norman Dunnington must be praised for his adventurous expedition into unknown comedy territory and creating a slick, fast moving production, complimented by a strong cast, an excellent set and spot-on sound and lighting.
Just to accentuate a point, the title of this review is a quoted Theatre of the Absurd period joke ‘If you’re flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit.’
Work that one out!
Cast: Keith Livesey, David Garnett, Gillian Hodges, Samantha Kett, Pat Kitching, Christyn Nossell, Russell Piercey, Andrew Cleven, Gerald Joy, Eleanor Joy, Norman Dunnington, John Reynolds.