Setting the new members of Bedlam Theatre the task of devising a short play to the theme of ‘Freshers big night out’ with only a week to do it posed a challenge, but one that every member clearly approached with gusto.
Each of the eight groups was given the name of one of Edinburgh’s pubs or clubs with no limitations or boundaries as to what scenes they could produce. This resulted in a varied mix of plays and characters, from vengeful skateboarding pirates to cross dressing actresses playing cross dressing spies.
Such general stimuli as Voodoo Rooms, Sneaky Petes and Espionage made for an impressive array of sketches; although there were some very literal explorations, the primary emphasis was clearly on the surreal. Think a modernised Monty Python on acid perhaps.
However, the vague nature and short time frame of the task could perhaps be seen in the sometimes floundering plotlines and abrupt endings of one or two of the works. Nevertheless, this is barely a footnote in the entire experience, and could be seen to add to their delightfully odd (if slightly scary) humour.
Each play was tech’d, directed, written and designed by the new Bedlam-ites, and a wonderful job was done providing costume and props. The lopsided cardboard Dalek complete with toilet plunger used in Doctors deserves a particular mention .
The Revolution and The 3rd Door groups provided especially memorable performances. Revolution’s noir crime drama attempted to solve the homicide of Wally (yes, ‘Where’s Wally’ Wally) via the medium of chat roulette, a risky business in anybody’s book, whilst The 3rd Door portrayed an almost LSD-fuelled vision of the party from hell. As the compere quipped, it was what would have happened if “Tim Burton and the Mighty Boosh had directed Friends”.
Overall it is clear that there is a wealth of new talent in the form of this year’s Bedlam freshers; a promising sign of what is to come in the year.