The Etcetera Theatre is a small black box theatre above a pub in the heart of Camden Town. The mood and energy of this alternative and exciting part of town adds a strong element of ‘cool’ to this quaint and quintessentially ‘fringe’ theatre venue. The Etcetera Theatre is kind of hidden away, as in if you were not specifically looking for it; it would be very easy to miss. The box office opens just 10 minutes before the house is open, when your standing waiting for your tickets you notice a dry erase board that is advertising a selection of several shows. Camden fringe is in full swing and it is the definition of grass roots. The staff at Etcetrea theatre are relaxed and interesting, emitting an air of contentment; a kind of understanding of personal purpose and passion. It felt good to be there, like I was part of something new.
When the house opens and you are told you can make your way to your seats; you enter the space to find a man laying on the ground in a boiler outfit. You also see the ‘budget set’ of 2 chairs, 2 small bed side tables, and a playstation controller. Interesting music is being played on a loop and it is very hot and I am sweating.
The piece is that of a ‘si-fi’ nature. It’s about 2 men that are stuck on a ‘transport ship’ turned into a prison vessel heading towards the asteroid belt in our neck of the galaxy. The controls are blocked, the oxygen is running out, and death is the reality for these two prisoners. As the play evolves you find out that these two men are criminals according to ‘the syndicate’ and the men have been sentenced to death. One of the men is portrayed as an idiot charity worker, and the other an ‘over- zealous’, ‘over- nervous’, ‘supposed to be- genius’ smuggler. A kind of master/fool relationship is established.
The directing of the piece is of a very poor standard. The actors movement is sporadic and unnecessary. I feel a lot of trust has been given to the actors to do what they like, this directing tactic can be useful in certain circumstance however in this case the lack of clear direction makes the piece seem very amateur. The acting is poor, lots of energy is thrown at everything creating a distinctively clichéd and one dimensional performance.
The script through its moments of cliché does have moments of charm, sophistication and can be surprisingly funny with its use of clever vocabularies and keen science fiction knowledge. Yet to me, the script is not for the theatre, (it is almost a Doctor Who episode waiting to be noticed)and the director (who also served as the writer and producer) will probably find that he is not suited for the theatre either; he is a TV script writer trying to find his voice. If ManMoth Productions wants to continue its exploits in the theatre they have a lot of work to do and many things to learn- fringe theatre is perfect for them to grow. But I do think that ManMoth Productions would be best suited getting a basic film production kit, make a pilot, and learn TV.
My overall experience of my visit to Etcetrea Theatre was a good one, and I recommend theatre lovers to go there and check some stuff out. Keep in mind though, the pieces that you will see will be works in progress.