It is exciting to watch the Rogue Play take on The Custard Factory’s rather unloved theatre space and re-brand it as The Mixing Bowl. Their dynamic program of activity makes Stan’s Cafe look lazy. New Performances, poetry nights, comedy nights and work by visiting companies come round in swift rotation.
The other week I zoomed down to see Rogue Play’s installation piece Ultima Censura and was delighted to be led, not into the theatre but round and down into a half cellar space, high ceilinged and flooded. Huddled into the far end of the space ten domed hiking tents glowed. We picked our way to them over wooden pallets just proud of the water. In each tent a miniature installation addressed one of the Ten Commandments. Each audience member is asked to spend four minutes in each tent.
Inevitably the installations were of varying quality. Some were delicate and sensuously engaging – I enjoyed lying in the cosy nest of “Thou Shalt Rest on The Sabbath” thinking about The Children of Israel, the continuum of history and the lives of nomads. Others reflected their budgetary limitations and intense usage by feeling flimsy and worn out. There were some deft touches – following the somewhat flat “Thou Shalt Not Steal” in which you have the opportunity to pocket some lose change should you wish, “Thou Shalt Not Bare False Witness” shows you a video feed of activity within that previous tent. Three gently engaging encounters gave the piece a welcome live presence but missed the opportunity to respond to on the challenging nature of some of the commandments.
Ultimately the piece’s success should probably be measured by the quality of the thought processes it prompted in each of its audience members. Mostly I had a pleasant enough time without being provoked in any substantial way, yet, to its credit, a couple of strands of thought took me into territory I’ve not explored before and have stayed with me, which is a great thing for a show to be able to claim credit for. Strongest of all was the setting, the vision of the tents in the flooded cellar.
I look forward to catching up with more Rogue Play before too long. If you haven’t already, why not give them a go.