FellSwoop theatre begin by posing the question: do you know what it’s like to see things from the other side of the bar? It’s an oddly powerful question to pose to fringe theatre crowds – I’d guess most of this theatre-going, theatre-making audience have worked in bars at some point. It means the barkeep’s sentiment is strong, his position as a stuck bar tender, tired of the rowdy bunch around him and dreaming of fleeing the hell is a comic and satisfying one. And the play acts out the dismayed lives of his punters with wonderful parody, often in startling, affronting mime that captures the sorry state of those that hang out in this part of town.
Whilst our protagonist’s escape from the bar is a nice thought, and a pretty one to watch played out with typical road-trip, bar-hop bite, the overworking of narrative (this is originally a Patrick DeWitt novel) can become a little confusing and, in that, detract from the simple joy of the mimicry. Asides that, the character of Curtis in particular – a lecherous, cocained 40-year-old post-actor – is a particularly shining example of FellSwoop’s spot on visual storytelling. They nail the comedy and tragedy of losing oneself to the gutter.