Presented by Griffin Theatre Company and re:group
Reviewed by Jemima Sirtes
Re:group Performance Collective’s newest project has recently hit the Griffin Theatre as part of their lookout initiative. Re:group’s aim is to create new and eccentric live cinema. UFO by Kirby Medway and Solomon Thomas, certainly does this. This show focuses not on the movement of the actors but employs figurines and cameras to provide scale between the humans and the unknown.
The show takes through the journey of four people's response to an unidentified flying object (a UFO) that has landed at the edge of a golf course. Each of these characters have different jobs to figure out what this object is, where it’s from and why it’s here. Everyone has heard different conspiracies about it, but no one knows for sure.
There was no specific standout performance in this piece, which I consider a very good thing. Each person on stage worked together as Actor, Camera-Operator, Stage Manager and more, all rolled into one, allowing the show's mixed-media elements to work well with limited people.
The production design was the highlight of the show. Every miniature set piece was immaculately thought out so that once the show was over, the audience could walk through the set and look through the windows of the little houses. Tiny papers covered in sketches, gold framed paintings and pocket-sized carpets made to perfection. The only lights to brighten the set were hazy streetlights and the UFO’s recurring pattern ‘6 Left, 6 Right’. This lighting design provided an excitingly unsettling atmosphere.
I commend the co-creator and director Solomon Thomas as his job of staging such a play must have been a difficult task. While movement happens on a smaller scale, it calls for a much more fastidious nature. Getting to speak to the creatives post-show, I can tell that the development and rehearsal period was a very collaborative process that is evident in the teamwork on stage.
Medway and Thomas said that the play's message was an introspective look into how humans respond to crises. Looking back, I can see how this message was translated through the show, but while watching, the message was lost. The plot seemed to lose its focus and after a while, I was mostly watching how the actors worked with the set and the miniatures.
UFO is an interesting take on the theatrical form, one which I’m hoping other theatre makers are inspired by to create new eclectic form-bending theatre. However, the storyline seems to be only secondary to these new ideas. Overall, I would recommend UFO those looking to see new and unique ideas in action.
UFO is currently running at the Griffin Theatre until April 29th. Book your tickets here.
Production images by Lucy Parakhina