Monday, 9 December 2002

3 Dark Tales, Dec 9, 2002

3 Dark Tales by Theatre O (UK)
Merlyn Theatre until February 2, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

We are all living lives of quiet desperation but none so blatantly as the three characters in 3 Dark Tales. Theatre O from the UK creates one of the finest physical, visual and comical shows I have seen in a long while.

Each of the three stories focuses on one of three characters whose lives are linked by more than just the office in which they work. Despair, loneliness and an inability to change their lives drive them.

What is so magical, challenging and delightful is the superb clowns and their detailed physicality. These four actors (Joseph Alford , Lucien MacDougall , Sarah Coxon , Carolina Valdès) have impeccable timing, control and stamina. 

The piece is crisply and stylishly directed by Alford. He keeps the rhythm shifting from rapid-fire slapstick to lyrical dance or poignant solos.

Their style is dominated by their shared training with the inimitable master, Jacques Le Coq in Paris. They repeat scenes, set up routines only to break them, make us laugh then weep.

In the first story, Dream on Mr. Tibble, a pathetic, weak little office worker, Mr. Tibble (Alford) is totally subjugated to his deranged wife's will. (Coxon) The pace is rapid, the comic business constant. He kowtows daily to his wife and his boss, Frank. Until, finally, he falls in love with his coy, pretty co-worker, Amelia. It ends in a violent parody of murder and mayhem.

The Unfortunate Predicament of Amelia Sas is slower paced, more poetic and tragic. Amelia's (Valdès) doctor diagnoses her fatal heart condition. She kisses Mr. Tibble in a restaurant and dies in a gloriously strange dance, fluttering like one of her goldfish out of water.

In Frank's Wardrobe , (MacDougall) their petty and autocratic boss, Frank, faces his wife and children leaving him. His former bravado is shattered when he returns to his empty home night after night.

There are some hilarious and compelling moments in these colliding lives. The illusion of Frank in a bed with his wife or a prostitute is cleverly staged.

Tibble's vanquishing of his muggers is a treat while the competitive display of their cars by Alford and MacDougall is a masterly. MacDougall's rendition of Frank as a rapacious bumblebee brings applause and the use of gibberish throughout is exceptional.

3 Dark Tales is marvellously original theatre making.

By Kate Herbert

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