Mini-review – The Architects – Shunt at the Biscuit Factory via National Theater

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It is a sad, sad thing when the highlight of a night at the theater is the line to the bathroom. In this case it was a single, glowing line, set in the cement of a factory floor and leading into the darkness, very much like the string Ariadne used to help Theseus find his way out of the minotaur’s lair. But this was the finest moment of subtle artistry of the evening. For a show that was supposed to be somehow related to the tale of the Labyrinth, The Architects was nearly a total failure. There were some throwaways: in the maze we had to navigate to find our way to the central ballroom where 90% of the evening took place; a nod to Pasiphae’s impregnation in the hollow cow statue (and the reference to having dolphin sex on demand in such a statue) that stood in the ballroom (of a cruise ship, apparently) where we waited interminably for something to happen; a cow-headed creature was killed at the end; and I do believe the family portraits hung throughout the maze had a certain bovine somebody scratched out.

But seriously: who came up with this crap? I was bored ten minutes after our “cruise” started (note: the “show” starts 1:10 after doors open, and there’s nothing to do or entertain yourself with other than the bar, so no point coming early – there is no extra atmosphere to absorb elsewhere). What was the purpose of any of the announcements that took place while we sat at our tables and occasionally listened to a band play? There was a bit of a narrative going on about problems on the cruise but it just lacked focus. At the end (spoiler alert), we are split into groups by gender, sat in the dark where we watch a TV screen that tells us to “scream!” and beware the minotaur; then the curtains are drawn to reveal a large open space where 1) the people running the cruise try to help a rope artist get back onto the boat (something like 5-10 minutes of rope artistry here so not enough to rescue the evening) 2) the people on the band murder the missing member of Minos’s family. Then a further curtain opens and there are the actors again, mostly (or entirely) naked.

And that was it. The band returned to the ballroom. A red string helped us find our way out of the venue. What a waste of time and effort!

(This review is for a performance that took place at 5 PM on Sunday, December 9th, 2012. It lasted for just over an hour. Tickets can be had for 10 quid on Theatermonkey.com, which might be tolerable. No, wait, it’s not. Dress warm. It runs through February 2nd. Moo.)

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One Response to “Mini-review – The Architects – Shunt at the Biscuit Factory via National Theater”

  1. Michael Holland Says:

    I jumped ship at the half hour mark, though wanted to leave after ten minutes. It was only when I discovered there was no interval that I marched across the space, to the one exit, even getting assisted by one of the Shunt collective as I passed through the ‘action’! Dire. Absolutely dire.

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