We are so lucky in London to not just have the incredible West End theatre but also to have countless fringe theatres showing some wonderful plays. Lava and The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs at the Soho Theatre blew my socks off with their creativity and talent over the last few months
Across town, in Battersea, the Latchmere pub hosts Theatre503. The last time I visited was several years ago with my friend – the late, great journalist, Lester Middlehurst. We saw Crime on Goat Island by Ugo Betti and Lester complained all the way through the performance even though his cousin, Rosemary Hurts, was starring in it. He was so vocal about his distain that the man next to him had to tell him to be quiet. Of course, in the bar afterwards he marvelled to Rosemary how incredible the evening was. Then, when she introduced him to the director, it was obviously the gentleman who had been sitting next to Lester that had been so vocal in his disapproval.
Still, the theatre at the Latchmere is a delightfully intimate affair and, unlike the West End, it has comfy chairs for the larger person (like me). It was a pleasure to sit back to watch No Particular Order by Joel Tan. Joel has been described as “one of the most exciting Singaporean playwrights of his generation”,and has been garlanded with a raft of awards.
Billed as being so cleverly written that even the actors couldn’t envision the final product when they first saw the script. Herein lies the problem, however. Tan is so pleased by and caught up in his own vision and creativity that he totally forgot two things – an audience is there to either learn or be entertained. Tan achieves neither.
At best, if you like watching two incredibly talented actors immersing themselves in a drama workshop, this may be for you. If you are studying acting, go to see it for Daniel York. He is an actor’s actor and dominates the stage, and almost makes the play bearable. Pandora Colin is equally captivating, but you cannot help but feel, as she skilfully delivers her monologue, that the whole affair had become so pretentious that even she must want to get it over with, jump in an Uber and disappear under a duck-down duvet .
It is a little like a Steven Berkoff play. Several friends have appeared in his productions, and all made the same comments: “No idea what it is about but there is a pay cheque at the end of it, so I don’t care”. I am sure there is a market for No Particular Order – maybe for those who want to be a reassured that what they are watching is clever and award winning. The design team certainly go all out with creativity, though at some points it made me laugh for the wrong reasons. The phrase “less is more” jumped to mind yet again as multi coloured feathers fall from the sky.
The audience is informed that: A despot has come to power. Society is listless, submissive, and scared. Yet, all we see of this country is a flicker-book of portraits – lyrical, witty, and savage snapshots that chart the human landscape of revolutions past, present, and future.
But alas, it was not fast paced and, whilst it may raise a few laughs in the beginning, it soon becomes painful. In the end, it came across as a “look-at-me” session for the writer who appeared to be more interested in his own (and undoubted) cleverness than in opening his soul to the audience or entertaining them.
Dates: 31st May – 18th June 2022. Available to livestream on 21June
Venue: Theatre503, 503 Battersea Park Road, London, SW11 3BW
Ticket prices: From £12. Standard £17
‘Pay What You Choose’ Saturdays, 3pm (excludes Preview Week)
Parent and Baby: Wed 15th June, 12noon
Box office: 020 7978 7040
Booking link: www.theatre503.com/whats-on/npo