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Trash is the latest production from LittleBerry Productions, a young company founded in early 2011. It is the debut professional theatrical piece for many involved, including the writer and the director. The play itself follows an eclectic bunch of students and their life as Freegans – a group of people who believe in foraging their food from rubbish bins.
The play is making its debut at The White Bear Theatre, Kennington, giving the play a very fringe-esque feel to it. Credit to the design team first off, as the creative use of this small space worked perfectly for the play. The set was comprised of a large heap of rubbish bags filling up a quarter of the stage, a sofa, a table and a stool. Upon first entry you find yourself asking whether this will be enough to sustain a two hour script, but nevertheless we sat and waited to see what the cast would do in the space.
The venue slowly filled to the tune of Oscar the Grouch’s ‘I Love Trash’, setting the scene for the promise of comedy, and soon every seat seemed to be full as the house lights went down and the performance began…
An energetic start to the play built from some choreographed rubbish bag throwing and the introduction of percussion using trash, was a brilliant creative choice. It engaged the audience at the same time as giving us a glance at the host of characters that would grace the stage over the next few hours. However, this also set a high bar for the energy and enthusiasm that would have to remain persistent throughout. With a cast that kept on growing, it seemed a big ask.
With eleven actors playing twelve characters in total, I began to look for individual character development and the performance of that both in voice and physicality. Overall, the cast effectively created an array of differing personalities, some of which were a little non-plus and seemed to only be added to the script to carry the story (a feat which can sometimes appear in debut stage writing and something to note for future as this can lead to underdeveloped characters), but there were also some stand out performances that must be noted.
Craig Deuchar brilliantly established himself as the leader of the pack Liam with boyish physical gestures, precise and appropriate reactions to his fellow actors on stage, and strong diction. This was particularly important considering he has a rather strong Scottish accent.
Secondly, Paddy Cooper, was perfectly cast as the reporter, creating an ambience of unease and determination as he entered the lair of the Freegans. His comical timing faltered a little at times but he kept the audience laughing as the scene got into full stride. Mr Cooper is the only actor to double up during the performance and unfortunately, at this early stage of the performance, his two characterisations were rather similar. What should be comical angry outbursts, need perfecting in terms of timing, contrast to the surrounding text and volume. However, I’m sure that over the coming weeks his wit and comedy will grow ever sharper.
After a scene which was packed with the introduction of numerous characters, Sophie Wardlow took to the stage as Vikki, the apparent Gollum of the rubbish-heap, spurting expletives and gorging on various trashy treasures such as bleach-coated malteasers! This definitely created a stark contrast to the first scene which was rather nicey-nicey light humour. This shift turned a few heads in the audience, but personally I noted this as either clever writing at the hand of Tom Hunt, or great character understanding and development much to the credit of Miss Wardlow.
Finally, I must highlight the two Toms! James Stirling-Gillies created a loveable and cutesy character in the group, in the form of Curly Tom, through his voice and genteel movements and gestures in the production. This contrasted nicely with the seemingly permanently edgy Little Tom (Joseph Stevenson) whose comical timing and facial gestures were something to be admired.
The cast definitely brought the script to life with a credible and successful attempt to keep the high energy flowing throughout. Their stage presence was (for the most part…) strong, and the character integrity and story line was well executed and had a natural progression to it.
Timothy J.Howe, making his debut into professional theatre directing with Trash, should be proud of the cast as a whole as they certainly are a credit to him. However, it must be said that there were moments in the production where choices were a little questionable – either at a directorial level or in the actors’ choices – that perhaps should have been noticed as the little details can often be the difference between professional and not so.
The precision of actions by the actors should be addressed as when ‘searching through trash’, one actor in particular did a less than realistic job of rooting through bags by hitting them and repeatedly returning to the same bag – this did make it look as though he was just waiting for the cue line, not actually engaging with his character in the moment and this occurred in a few scenes when this character entered the stage. The somewhat spontaneous finding of a toilet seat lid was a bit random also… why not actually hide it and have him find it?
Despite some lacking precision, there were some nice visuals throughout and all-in-all, it was a watchable piece of theatre, combining comedy, percussion, and strong acting. If you want to root around in the rubbish heap, and maybe discover a few treasures, why not head down to The White Bear Theatre before April 13th and catch Trash.