Oh, The Humanity: Oh, The Tedium

Penny Flood reviews the current production at The Tabard Theatre


Oh, The Humanity
3 September - 20 September 2014
Tue - Sat 7:30pm
Sat Matinee (13 & 20 Sept) @ 4pm
Tickets £16/£14

Book online at www.tabardtheatre.co.uk or 0208 995 6035 The Tabard Box Office.

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I want to start on a positive note. The direction and production of this play are superb. The set, with its big white stage and background surrounded by all the clutter you’d expect in a busy studio are perfect with clever use of lighting. And the cast of nine never put a foot wrong. The problem is the play itself, or rather the five little playlets that it is comprised of.

There’s no central story, no dialogue and no narrative, just a series of unrelated monologues and duologues. With nothing to hold it together and no obvious reason for any of them being there, it quickly became tedious.

Writer Will Eno specialises in monologues and much of his has work has appeared on Broadway. He’s been compared to Beckett but that didn’t work for me in this case. Beckett delved deep into the absurdity of human existence, like him or loathe him; Beckett gave his audiences something to think about. This play however left me with nothing to think about, it’s far too shallow. A photographer’s assistant considering whether a photograph of a group of soldiers in a war zone is a picture of men scared or dying or happy to be alive, is about as deep as it got.
I just felt these were ordinary people with their pretensions and inadequacies, not one of them interesting enough to be worth more than a passing nod.

To be fair, there are some witty lines, but nothing really sharp. For example, a coach sees a reflection of himself and has to face up to the fact that that’s what he looks like and he’s not just having a bad day. Later on, an airline spokeswoman explaining a plane crash says she thinks gravity had something to do with it.

The only time it came alive for me was the in last sketch where a couple are confused about whether they’re going to a christening or a funeral and realise too late that they’re not going anywhere because they’re on chairs and not in a car. Beckett would have a field day with that situation but it wasn’t developed and like every other sketch it ended up going nowhere.
It’s also very long, 90 minutes without an interval.

If you’re wondering about the title, it’s what the reporter said as he witnessed the Hindenberg disaster in 1937 where 36 people died.

September 12, 2014

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