The outcome of a collaborative effort led by veteran choreographer and performance artist Jacky Lansley, About Us is a succession of seemingly unconnected fragments which take place on a rectangular floor surrounded on all four sides by an audience sitting at the same level, as if in a private home where a space had been cleared in the living room for post prandial revelries.
You hope at some point it’ll all evolve into some kind of narrative or at least show some internal cohesion. Sadly, it doesn’t.
There’s a puzzling sub-cabaret turn, when to a projection of a glittering disco ball one of the performers sings a song and addresses the audience directly. We’re all asked to switch sides to no particular purpose.
Then comes audience participation: we’re asked to wave our arms about as directed by the performers, in a scene vaguely reminiscent of Sunday afternoon entertainment in an old people’s home.
The end of About Us nails its political colours to the mast with a series of platitudinous statements seemingly unrelated with what went before. It tells us Brexit may affect the arts; there are 128,000 homeless children in the UK; elephants are a threatened species because of poaching (cue performers marching around with swinging arms, letting out strident imitations of elephant trumpeting); African green parrots ditto, because they’re being caught for pets (cue squawking and flapping of arms).
There is no doubting the sincerity of this group of performers and their director. However, to ram home to an audience the point that ‘the personal is political’ they need a much stronger, more articulate and frankly much savvier statement.
|What||Jacky Lansley: About Us Review|
|Where||Oxford House Theatre, Bethnal Green, London, E2 6HG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Bethnal Green (underground)|
On 21 Mar 18, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour no interval
|Price||£12 (concessions £10)|
|Website||Click here to book via the Oxford Theatre website|