Forced Entertainment’s new show The Coming Storm is a chaotic blend of storytelling, music and improvisation, as if we are viewing it through the eyes of a child whose rummaging through the costume cupboard. The show starts with a line up, one solitary microphone and the competition to be heard. Each performer has a story to tell, some truthful and personal, others outrageously far-fetched and those that are just dreary and dull. The performers cut each other off and disrupt the flow creating distractions that never allow anybody the chance to finish. It’s a piece about storytelling and what that means in the modern world.
In true Forced Entertainment fashion there is upstaging, bickering, repetition and musical accompaniment mixed in with the odd crocodile costume. Fragments of stories can be made out through a frenzy of wandering trees, dancing ballerinas and monsters. These sporadic moments of disruption create alternative meanings that are cleverly allowing the audience the chance to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.
Stories are constantly stopped then started again and you find yourself thinking have I been here before? Its only when you feel like you have had enough and are ready to walk out that you realise there’s a man with a rope trying to find a suitable beam to hang himself from. Spacial patterns appeared to be aimless, but no matter how blasé they were, every moment had a purpose.
Its moments like this that make Forced Entertainment’s work engaging and distinctive but just like an errant toddler playtime lasted too long. The repetitive playfulness becomes tiring and annoying and while this frantic disorder is at the heart of what they do, this time it didn’t quite gel, which cost them two or three audience members.
It’s gripping, immensely funny at times and has some strikingly poignant moments. It’s a good piece to see if you want to question contemporary theatre making, just don’t expect an easy ride.
The Coming Storm embarks on a national tour later this year, for more information or to book tickets please click here