views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Crazy Glue
The Nursery
4th October 2013


Filipa Tomas and Bradley Wayne Smith as the Wife and the Husband

Photography © Mattia Reiniger

The Nursery isn't the easiest venue to find, it's located in a railway arch, down an alleyway that Google Maps refuses to recognise. And the first clue, a sign bearing its name was propped up against a different venue altogether. But I was finally rewarded by my perseverance and orienteering skills with Single Shoe Productions' debut piece, Crazy Glue. This not only marked their first finished show, but also opened the fifth Nursery Festival, a relatively small annual event which showcases works in all stages of development.

Based on Etgar Keret's short story of the same name, Crazy Glue is the tale of a husband and wife in crisis. The ending shares much in common with Keret's work, but the journey, devised by Filipa Tomas and Bradley Wayne Smith, is rather different. It's a piece which has been respectfully inspired by Keret rather than copied from him - but his line in black comedy and striking visuals. However, more fundamentally, this new production changes the impetus for the couple's problems. In the original short story, an affair demonstrates the underlying problem of a relationship - here it's not. This removal of blame results in an inherently tragic plot.

With support from dramaturg Katharine Markwick and movement director Bert Roman, the performers have developed Crazy Glue from a work-in-progress at last year's Nursery Festival into a polished show. Tomas and Smith mime their way through the piece, talking in gibberish and providing their own sound effects. Not so much a play as a physical theatre piece, here's not a lot of words - it's almost a live silent movie.

The props too are minimal, consisting of a table, two chairs and a bottle of glue. Yet over the 45 minutes, we witness many complicated and unexpected things - the Wife (Tomas) forlornly playing with a child's mobile, the Husband (Smith) brandishing an oxy-fuel cutting torch. It's a testament to the pair's talent that it's not until the show's end that you realise most of what you thought you saw was imagined, brought to life by Tomas and Smith's clever mines and coordinated vocal trickery.

Filipa Tomas as the Wife

Photography © Mattia Reiniger

The final scenes are played out at ground level, executed cleverly, but were difficult to see from the back of the room. However, the show was a one-night-only preview, designed to run properly at the Blue Elephant, where this won't be an issue, the seats there are graduated and all give a good view. It's easy to see why it's setting up home there, Crazy Glue is a quirky little piece, with a great sense of fun, and will really fit that venue's character.

There were some sequences where I didn't quite get all the finer detail, but I'd suggest it was me, not them. Crazy Glue is reminiscent of an early 1930s Disney cartoon, no words, but plenty of sound effects, and impossible things being depicted as entirely possible. There's one sequence in particular involving beating hearts which feels like it has come straight out of a traditional 2D animation.

We previously reviewed Glass-Eye Theatre's No Man's Land, another devised piece packed full of whimsy, in which Smith both performed and contributed to the script. It's clear he has a great sense of playfulness and in Tomas, he has found a worthy equal to make some really exciting theatre. They're a formidable team, both keenly aware of the other's movements and actions even when out of the line of sight.

Mime does have a pretty poor reputation as a form of entertainment, but Single Shoe Productions managed to win us over in less than an hour. Crazy Glue is a carefully crafted, funny and heart wrenching piece that will keep you stuck to your seat.

Crazy Glue ran on 4th October at The Nursery, as part of The Nursery Festival. It then ran from 22nd to 26th October 2013 at the Blue Elephant Theatre. It next runs from 25th to 29th November 2014 at The Vaults, as part of Mimetic Festival.

Nearest tube station: Southwark (Jubilee)

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