Venue: thank Jam it’s Friday!

Man alive, tonight’s abuzz – it’s barely clocking off time and there’s Goldyfrappishead celebrities in the café, scarf-sporting Old Vic artistic wizard Tom Morris is hugging people in the foyer and there are queues building outside three of the Old Vic’s performance spaces; none of which, it turns out, are hosting tonight’s 6pm series of short plays performed by The Factory (who also tackle Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ in an hour or so). We stumble belatedly upon the first Factory performance up on the Coopers’ Gallery (the others unfold in the café, on the stairs, front of house and even in the gents’ bog) and, like all the two- and three-handers we became party to (and in one, roped into as a young girl called ‘Princess’) it’s not quite clear what’s going on… the scripts are known by the actors (all parts) but the order, location and delivery are unknown… some struggle with the general hubbub of distractions – others, like the playfully animated childhood squabble in the toilets – benefit from the heightened intimacy and additional props (loo brushes, taps, mirrors) on hand. There are hints at mental degradation, power struggles, romance, loyalty, loss, love and possibly more, possibly less. When it works, it soars, when it doesn’t, it’s at least brief.Nigel (“I was poo-ing myself beforehand!”) – one of the actors in the first play drops by to explain it all: “I really like it when it moves around – our raison d’être is to keep everything spontaneous – conventional spaces and audience layouts can restrict you… Usually, everyone knows the pieces but it’s still utterly spontaneous, and just like in real life you pause, stutter, mispronounce – so it doesn’t matter if we do it here… that’s what we convince ourselves anyway!”So, it’s 7.45pm… Hazlewood and his musical maestros on next… or more of The Factory? Or the first throes of the 30-hour improvathon? Its’s… um, er, ah…ALL THREE! By some handy twist of fate (and with the help of a few friends), Venue splits itself into triplicate and sees the lot. And given there’s been a lot of talking on this blog, at 11.03pm, here’s a more digestible ten-word review of each:The Seagull: Some beautiful people interrupt each other deftly. Chekhov breathes anew. (Strawberry Joe)Charles Hazlewood All Stars’A Rainbow in Curved Air‘: Top-notch noodling growing patiently into incendiary celebratory noise. Terrific. (Apricot Tom)The (frightening) 30-hour Improvathon: hold on, we’re going in…12.19am update: Many Showstoppers sing hymns on evils of alcohol. Laughter aplenty. (Raspberry Ben)FINAL UPDATE: It’s pushing 1.30am, the all-night impro marathon rumbles on in the Paintshop, a cast of 20 plus spatz’n’frocks-sporting Bugsy Malone off-cuts dancin’, singin’, kissin’, fightin’ and speechifyin’ at the behest of their director yelling assorted scene queues from the wings… sadly, though, Venue’s all Jammed-out.  Time to grab the dame, duck into the bullet-ridden Chrysler and grab 40. More tomorrow…

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