This review also appears in Western Park Gazette
Marbleglass Theatre Company presents Sell-By-Date
The Y Theatre
If you go down to the Y on Sundays you’re sure of a surprising mix of activities as new local arts collective KLiC take over Leicester’s oldest theatre, giving audiences opportunities to not only see performances and decide how much to pay for the pleasure but also join in with various activities.
This Sunday featured a ukelele workshop followed by this month’s Pay What You Decide performance, Marbleglass Theatre Company’s Sell-By-Date. Alumni of the University of Northampton’s School of the Arts, this group of four actors has taken one of life’s universal truths – death – to create what is described as a ‘blindingly honest black comedy’ all about the different aspects of that thing none of us can avoid.
It’s a big theme and this production, performed last year at Bedfringe and the Looking Glass Theatre, packs in a lot of big ideas. Maybe too many ideas actually, as watching this piece sure felt like playing a mean pinball – with the audience as the ball.
Themes including diagnosis and gradual decline from a terminal illness, murder, abortion and euthanasia zig zag across the stage in sometimes short, sometimes longer scenes, peppered with humour and emotional punch.
With many nods in Brecht’s direction, Sell-By-Date features projected scenes and images, song and silences. Generally these work well, particularly the projection although I would suggest reviewing the sound quality on some of the outdoor scenes – trying to hear often very funny dialogue in what seemed like a howling gale is distracting.
Big dollops of black humour permeate the piece, sometimes verging on tasteless but also with some great absurd sketches. The word play between a barman and ‘man with motor neurone disease’ was, although a tad contrived, enjoyable and reminiscent of The Two Ronnies.
Emotional scenes are also handled well, working best when presented simply – a scene with a puppet baby is powerful, however, there didn’t seem enough time to absorb and recover from one scene before being flung headlong into another weighty subject. A few more gentle transitions between scenes would solve this.
Overall this was a promising performance by a talented company with a lot of creative ideas. Unafraid of big subjects, black comedy and skimpy bikinis, this is a piece which, with a few adjustments, would not be out of place in Edinburgh come August.
See KLiC’s forthcoming events here
Images from Marbleglass Theatre Company