Review: Forced Entertainment: Real Magic @ HOME

With​ ​a​ ​prominent​ ​politician’s​ ​father​ ​in​ ​the​ ​​I’m A Celebrity ​jungle​ ​and​ ​a​ ​reality​ ​star​ ​in​ ​The White​ ​House,​ ​parodying​ ​trash​ ​TV​ ​effectively​ ​has​ ​become​ ​something​ ​of​ ​a​ ​conundrum. 

Glittering​ ​game​ ​shows​ ​which​ ​conceal​ ​an​ ​ocean​ ​of​ ​regret​ ​and​ ​disappointment​ ​have​ ​long​ ​been fertile​ ​ground​ ​for​ ​examining​ ​society.​ ​However,​ ​how​ ​can​ ​this​ ​scrutiny​ ​be​ ​updated​ ​for​ ​times where​ ​absurdity​ ​trumps​ ​logic? 

A​ “situation​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​a​ ​story”,​ ​​Real Magic​ ​is​ ​a​ ​surreal​ ​play​ ​for​ ​surreal​ ​times.​ ​Three performers enact​ ​the​ ​same​ ​futile​ ​game​ ​show​ ​scene​ ​over​ ​and​ ​over,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​structure becoming​ ​increasingly​ ​disjointed. 

Contestants​ ​are​ ​given​ ​the​ ​impossible​ ​task​ ​of​ ​mind​ ​reading,​ ​and​ ​so​ ​are​ ​inevitably​ ​crushed each​ ​time​ ​in​ ​a​ ​myriad​ ​of​ ​confusing​ ​and​ ​often​ ​amusing​ ​ways.​ ​Although​ ​they​ ​believe​ ​they​ ​are given​ ​three​ ​choices,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​ultimately​ ​an​ ​illusion.

Second​ ​chances​ ​are​ ​given​ ​arbitrarily,​ ​with​ ​rules​ ​being​ ​broken​ ​and​ ​discarded​ ​at​ ​random. Roles​ ​and​ ​costumes​ ​are​ ​swapped​ ​continuously,​ ​breaking​ ​any​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​authority​ ​or​ ​order.

‘GLEEFUL’ PERFORMANCE: Real Magic appears to be bleak but it is in fact all about humour

Performer​ ​Claire​ ​Marshall​ ​told​ ​​MM: ​“The​ ​world​ ​we​ ​live​ ​in​ ​is​ ​a​ ​strange​ ​and confusing​ ​and​ ​infuriating​ ​place,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​like​ ​to​ ​make​ ​work​ ​that​ ​reflects​ ​how​ ​that​ ​feels.”

Marshall​ ​also​ ​stressed​ ​how​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​great​ ​deal​ ​of​ ​positivity​ ​and​ ​humour​ ​within​ ​what​ ​at​ ​first appears​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​rather​ ​bleak​ ​play.

​“There’s​ ​also​ ​a​ ​positivity​ ​in​ ​it​ ​that’s​ ​about​ ​the​ ​gleefulness of​ ​the​ ​performance.” 

In​ ​this​ ​nightmarish​ ​loop​ ​of​ ​time,​ ​chicken​ ​dances​ ​appear​ ​mournful​ ​and​ ​canned​ ​laughter​ ​feels ominous.​ ​Cheerful​ ​game​ ​show​ ​hosts​ ​insist​ ​”everyone​ ​gets​ ​a​ ​second​ ​chance,​ ​everyone​ ​gets​ ​a second​ ​life”​ ​as​ ​hopes​ ​are​ ​dashed​ ​over​ ​and​ ​over. 

There​ ​is​ ​something​ ​to​ ​be​ ​said​ ​for​ ​watching​ ​the​ ​same​ ​scene​ ​over​ ​and​ ​over;​ ​you​ ​begin​ ​to notice​ ​the​ ​subtle​ ​nuances​ ​in​ ​tone​ ​and​ ​body​ ​language.​ ​The​ ​varying​ ​impact​ ​of​ ​the​ ​same​ ​words sped​ ​up​ ​or​ ​spat​ ​out​ ​in​ ​anger.

Despite​ ​the​ ​sparse,​ ​repetitive​ ​language,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​thinky​ ​piece,​ ​brought​ ​to​ ​life​ ​through​ ​dry comic​ ​timing​ ​and​ ​expressiveness​ ​-​ ​and​ ​of​ ​course​ ​the​ ​sizeable​ ​improvisational​ ​talents​ ​of​ ​Jerry Killick,​ ​Richard​ ​Lowdon​ ​and​ ​​Marshall.

Although​ ​Forced​ ​Entertainment​ ​prefer​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​the​ ​audience​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​their​ ​own interpretations,​ ​the​ ​theme​ ​of​ ​being​ ​an​ ​agent​ ​for​ ​change​ ​in​ ​a​ ​seemingly​ ​hopeless​ ​situation​ ​is prevalent​ ​throughout.

Performer ​Lowdon​ ​said:​ ​“There’s​ ​something​ ​about​ ​when​ ​the​ ​contestant​ ​is​ ​asked​ ​to guess​ ​the​ ​word​ ​that​ ​somebody​ ​else​ ​is​ ​thinking​ ​of,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​continually​ ​make​ ​the​ ​three​ ​wrong choices.​

“​It’s​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​like,​ ​you’re​ ​given​ ​options​ ​but​ ​actually​ ​as​ ​people​ ​we​ ​often​ ​behave​ ​through habit.

​“In​ ​a​ ​metaphoric​ ​sense,​ ​it​ ​feels​ ​like​ ​it​ ​talks​ ​about​ ​what​ ​it​ ​is​ ​like​ ​living​ ​now​ ​in​ ​a way.”

Real Magic​ ​may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​everyone’s​ ​cup​ ​of​ ​tea.​ ​Forced​ ​Entertainment’s​ ​loyal​ ​fan​ ​base​ ​will enjoy​ ​this​ ​latest​ ​theatrical​ ​experiment​ ​-​ ​and​ ​indeed​ ​there​ ​were​ ​some​ ​heartfelt​ ​guffaws​ ​from the​ ​audience. 

For​ ​those​ ​of​ ​us​ ​unaccustomed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​company’s​ ​distinct​ ​brand​ ​of​ ​avant​ ​garde,​ ​this​ ​show offers​ ​interesting​ ​perspectives​ ​on​ ​deconstructing​ ​theatre​ ​while​ ​blending​ ​high​ ​art​ ​with​ ​pop culture. 

You​ ​do​ ​however​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​the​ ​right​ ​humour​ ​to​ ​become​ ​fully​ ​immersed.​ ​The​ ​repetition can​ ​be​ ​jarring​ ​-​ ​and​ ​at​ ​times​ ​downright​ ​grating.​ ​A​ ​relaxing​ ​evening​ ​at​ ​the​ ​theatre​ ​this​ ​is​ ​not.

Real Magic is showing at HOME until Friday, tickets here.

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