Buoy

Thu 1st – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Patty McCabe

at 08:39 on 11th Aug 2013

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Buoy is the name of the band. A band which we hear an awful lot about; we see the members constructing their look for the first show, we hear about their influences, and we even hear about their sound. We just never actually hear the band. This is one element of Revolving Shed’s production about hipsters who ‘want to appear creative without actually doing anything’ that made the performance so slick and accomplished.

The brilliance Lawrence Vardaxoglou’s script lay not just in the actual dialogue but in the form of the dialogue itself. The pattern of Lauren and Rob’s first conversation is made explicit by Rob in the penultimate scene when he attempts to find a formula for engaging in hipster-chat, and is replicated in the final moments between Rob and Joe. The humour was never forced and the sincerity of the characters prevented the piece from deteriorating into parody – a very tempting option when it comes to the East London edgy brigade.

The living room set was made of a bizarre collection of junkyard furniture and littered with the essential elements of a hipster’s grab-bag; cans of Red Stripe and a copy of Camus’s 'The Outsider'. The directing, courtesy of Rosie Gray, was incredibly slick. The cast stepped forward when assessing outfits for their first show as ‘Buoy’, making it clear that the audience could see them, but they were unable to see themselves - emphasising the extent to which their lifestyle is all about the look.

Jordan (Edward Elliot), a twenty-first century dandy complete with pretty boy looks and a taste for fine fashions and fur coats, was clearly the leader of the group. Elliot’s portrayal was masterful, creating a character full of readily identifiable idiosyncrasies that made his performance both incredibly convincing and, much to everyone’s irritation, a little likeable. Joe (Jimmy Dunn) was the dopey poetic genius, complete with rolled short-sleeve shirt and eighties style glasses. Although Jordan’s subordinate, he was no less a compelling force on stage. Rob (Pip Willet), the newbie of Mansfield origins, does not take long to adapt to his new East London surroundings, still allowing for the uneasy development of his character that made Willet’s portrayal so convincing.

The strength of the production rested on a ferociously intelligent script, flawless directing, and superb acting – simply traditional and fundamental theatrical elements which cleverly jarred with the hipsters' approach. It was in the final moments of the play, when Rob realises how much he has changed, that the play fails. I felt this moralising was a little unnecessary; the message has been clear throughout and it did not need stating. Vardaxoglou should have had more faith in the strength of his own script!

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Millie Morris

at 10:53 on 11th Aug 2013

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Hipsters: the kids who trump substance with style. In possibly the most concise definition around today, The Revolving Shed describes these creatures as ‘want[ing] to appear creative without actually doing anything’. This so-cool-it’s-frozen facade manifests itself in Laurence Vardaxoglou’s satirical drama, which follows a group of East Londoners who take pretension to the next level. This clever, cryptic piece of theatre is the perfect commentary on those who have no idea what they’re preaching, as long as they do it in a stylish way.

As the audience gathers in a small, dark room a floor up within Edinburgh’s ‘C Aquila’ venue, the fictional flat in which most of the action takes place is easily recreated, with costumes and props accurate to a tee. Humour is rife within this bittersweet comedy; Edward Elliot’s casual delivery as top dog Jordan is enough to make anyone crease up at his obliviousness to his own absurdity. New guy in town, Rob (Pip Willett), is taken on a journey of cherished jackets and claims to poetic genius – only to find that his own in-depth ideas are incongruous in this environment. We do not hear any actual music by the ‘band’, Buoy, created by these characters, as they exert their efforts into planning outfits and ensuring their answers to band interviews give off the cool vibe they so wish to convey.

Rob’s own interview practice, where he crossly tells himself to always give the impression that he has heard of all niche interests the interviewer might mention, is reminiscent of the trick Jimmy Kimmel recently played on festival-goers at Coachella. Budding music fans were asked if they were looking forward to bands with completely made-up names, to which they fervently nodded and enthused about how great these bands were. In perfect mimicry of those who place value on always being up-to-date and in-the-know, 'Buoy' proves itself as fresh and relevant.

A stark, significant moment occurs where Joe (Jimmy Dunn) is accused in a sudden outburst from Rob that he never actually reads any of the literature Rob lends him. Joe has just illustrated the themes of Camus’ ‘The Outsider’; in a neat allusion to this text, Rob is struck by an existential crisis which threatens to quash his true individuality. However, unlike Camus’ Meursault, the outsider that each of the hipsters fancy themselves to be is nothing more than the weight of the social group they relent to.

The abrupt, almost premature halt to the play leaves the audience with the sting of its moral. This is a commendable take on the tragic submission of a lively-minded individual who is seduced by the indie glamour of the twenty-first century – and oh Buoy, does it tackle these issues well.

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