Heading past the defunct bingo hall towards the (also) out of action Casablancas, I was intrigued as to where my adventures in theatreland were taking me on a freezing Autumn evening last week.
The destination was a new one for me. The deceptively named Sweet Werks was tucked away on Middle Street, but there were no sweeties in sight! It was more of a communal workspace, with a bar, which gave me time to de-robe and grab a pre-show cuppa. The audience was then led downstairs to one of the photographic studios, for an original performance of ‘SPILLAGE!’
What unfolded was a hugely enjoyable one man show about anxiety, peer pressure and mental health – written and performed by UK Anti-Slam winner, Stewart Taylor; directed by Anna Carr. Putting it like that, it doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, but using spoken word, clowning and puppetry, Taylor’s energy and charisma were mesmerising in the intimate venue.
Without a stage, props were minimal, which meant all eyes were on Taylor, along with his trusty action man aka ‘Anagram’ who is an unlikely confidante and decision maker, and is pretty good at inventing words too!
The show will resonate with anyone- whether you are bogged down with a relentless 9-5 or not, and Dan plays the every-man who has lost the zest for life, Stuck in a job he hates at corporate enterprise, LAP Giles, with a demanding boss and ridiculous deadlines. The show opens as he is juggling phone calls, whilst preparing for a last minute presentation, when all he really wants is to have a coffee break.
Trying to beat the system, he tempts fate by attempting to finish his drink, and in his panic, he spills it down his front- just before he was due to go and give his presentation, which he manipulates into a ‘spillage control workshop’.
Using an elaborate over-analysis of the word ‘spillage’ as an analogy of his life, Dan switches between presenter mode where he educates and enlightens, to an inner monologue. With the outcome resulting in a finely tuned character study based on a profound reflection on his own identity in a touching, multilayered performance.
Tackling everyday pressures and their consequences, the meaning of spilt coffee is put into perspective.
For more information on Brighton Fringe see online.