Theatre503 is the most important fringe theatre for new writing in the country. In one year alone they receive 1,500 unsolicited scripts for submission (they have an open submission policy, all year round). They put on the standard London fringe month-long performance runs – but have an interesting program of small “one-off” events. To go and see something with more of a workshop feel, with more of a “this is being created right now” aesthetic is a joy, and one so well curated by Karis Halsall over three nights in January. 503Fusions at Theatre 503 was a 70 minute long piece with four parts to it, all written by different groups of multi-talented people.
Certainly, there were highlights in Karis Halsall’s monologue “Night” which took us through the rush of the city and into her mind. Halsall’s writing was as intelligent and subtle as it was poetic – worth the ticket price alone for the line “like a newborn’s chalkboard wail” and Samuel Organ’s soundscape was a perfect fit to Halsall’s internal struggle. Deanna Rodger’s epic diatribe on light and dark in “Night II” was preachy at all the right moments, and snap lighting and Tuesday Born’s musical accompaniment was visceral and hypnotic.
In the first “Day” section, Tommy Sissons and Normanton Street were vibrant and rhythmic, building and changing with wonderful dynamic throughout. At points, however, it felt a little too internal – shutting me out as an audience member. Gemma Rogers’ “Day” was brilliant in its spoken sections – Rogers’ skill as an actress is clear – but her songs felt a little contrived. I couldn’t work out whether she was doing musical theatre parody, or engaging in a serious attempt to use songs to advance her character’s stories.
The evening had a distinctly London feel. All of the pieces were portraits of a city, or life in one. In hindsight, I think I would have liked a little more suggestion of that from the beginning – the title’s “Night” – “Day” – “Day” –“Night II” don’t give away very much, and I think when the night itself is going to be so varied in its tone and style the audience needs some maps. I would love to see what some of these writers and performers could do if they were each given an hour to work with. But, maybe that’s me being picky. If you like new writing, if you like music (both electronic and acoustic), poetry, theatre – 503Fusions was a lively show with so many different skills being expressed on stage. You’d be pushed to find a place working harder to create an environment for all of this to be realised, than Theatre503. 3.5/5
Review written by Samuel Clay.
503 Fusions is currently showing at Theatre 503 until Saturday 17th January. For more information on the production, visit here…