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The Exquisite Corpse at Southwark Playhouse

Fiona Doyle

Surrealism is a movement that endeavours to free the mind from the cage of logic.

Motivated by this objective, True Fiction Theatre Company has worked with five writers to produce sixteen scenes, all of which were inspired by similar images but written in isolation from each other.

Each scene is represented by an object and each night, the audience is invited to rearrange the order of these objects before the performance begins.

The shape of the play is unknown until the audience enters and the performers arrive onstage.

For the next seventy minutes, the actors follow a random number sequence as a pastiche of mini-scenes punctuated by projected sound and image begins to unfold.

Five cloak-stands are positioned around the fringes of the stage area containing the necessary costumes and props.

If an actor is not required, he or she simply sits on the sidelines watching and waiting for the next number to appear, lending a Brechtian flair to the piece.

Each spectator is completely free to pick up or discard potential theatrical narratives as words and images becoming platforms for limitless interpretations.

Alex Beckett's versatility and comic wit is particularly engaging while all five actors deal well with the inevitable pressure that accompanies such a project.

The piece elicits some striking theatrical imagery and scenes that work best are those which strike a counter- Balance between performers, visuals and sound.

Matt Peover's direction pays careful attention to levels and movement in space; each scene is rich in detail and characterization while transitions between scenes are surprisingly smooth.

All in all, The Exquisite Corpse is an intriguing play and the company should be commended for their attempts to explore a theatrical style which challenges the conventions of performance and spectatorship.

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