Bright young things Barrel Organ present their difficult second show
Barrel Organ Theatre made a big splash last year with their debut play ‘Nothing’, a series of visceral snapshots of a disenfranchised youth that were performed night-on-night be randomly assigned members of the company.
Follow up ‘Some People Talk About Violence’ didn’t quite hit the spot for me, with writer Lulu Raczka’s forceful script intermingled with a series of improvised games – performed out of character by the actors – that seem to have been tacked on to shore up the company’s leftfield credentials (or possibly even serve as a homage to markedly similar show ‘A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts’).
The body of 'Some People…' is much more persuasive, an ambiguous, upsetting story about a girl – clearly suffering from acute depression – who has done… something that has led to her arrest. She’s recently lost yet another job and now rarely leaves the house, instead becoming obsessed with ‘The Big Bang Theory’, a show she watches incessantly, despite loathing it. Another actor plays the narrator, another her impotent, ineffectual mother, another her brother, who has started a new life in Thailand with his boyfriend but immediately comes home when his sister phones him from prison. Nobody talks about violence at any point. Was the girl arrested for attacking somebody? Or is the violence a violence of the mind visited on her by a world that’s not looked out for her? Whatever the case, it’s a grim, relentless, darkly comic depiction of depression that rings horribly true.
Having the company break off to play games – seeing who can stuff the most cream crackers down their gullets and whatnot – undoubtedly leavens the gloom and makes for a more playful, less portentous hour of theatre, but it’s an odd cocktail, the fun stuff seemingly calculated to undermine the show’s more serious intent.