Far Away From the Watering-Hole

“This will not be an ‘omg it’s just been week five and this play really brightened my mood’ kind of review. It has just been, and it did, but I’m feeling more existential than that.” JAMES MACNAMARA celebrates an evening of unadulterated fun.

ben elton Dir. Siân Docksey ellie nunn far away from the watering hole james macnamara rosie brown

ADC, Wed 7th – Sat 10th Wed £5/£4, Thu-Sat £6/£5

Dir. Siân Docksey

Fuck it, I’m giving y’all five big ones. It was bewildering, slapdash, sloppy, insane, at times barely comprehensible, the lighting was really messed up, I can’t remember anyone’s name, why does she have chicken carcasses on her hands, does this trivialise mental illness, what character is this man now playing, how did you make such a wicked set I think my plus one hates me who am I where am I going I should probably read some Camus.

Because it’s all bullshit, really. And Siân Docksey fucking knows it. Yeah, that’s right, I’m gonna swear. Don’t give a shit. Not for the moment, not for this evening. I’m just going to pour myself a stiffy and let my brain revert to instinctive functions. Such as laughter. Just for a little while.

This will not be an ‘omg it’s just been week five and this play really brightened my mood’ kind of review. It has just been, and it did, but I’m feeling more existential than that. What this production managed to help me experience was an overwhelming reminder of the absurdity of what goes in this place. The po-faced, proto-professionalism that haunts so much of Cantabrigian extra-curricular activity is dismantled, satirised, insulted, and generally given a damn good kicking in this play.

Docksey writes like Ben Elton on some serious uppers. Every line twists into and out of a joke format, sometimes aligning with elegant clarity, sometimes falling short, sometimes falling really quite a lot short, but always there, reminding you that, at the end of the day, everything can be funny.

The ideas here are fun. Many of them can’t hang together in a serious narrative structure. But they can hang out, get some hang time, hang low, play hangman, hang out the washing, smoke some weed and go to bed happy, hanging below the knees and probably hang like a bastard in the morning.

But, there is a story. Firstly, the audience are invited to sit and draw pictures for the first few minutes. That’s the best story ever. Then there is a fictional children’s program, the host of which is fired for ‘offending vegetarians’. We are relocated to a bizarre rehab institution. Who the fuck knows what happens in between. Apart from some delicious comic performances: Rosie Brown and Ellie Nunn really carry this show and really know, in their bones, how to make people laugh.

A wonderful joke: “There’s nothing like nepotism to get you a job in media… Oh, hi Dad!”. Perfect. This show is unprofessional, ridiculous, baffling, wayward. And seriously, the lighting needs sorting. But I don’t care, I don’t think it cares, and that’s what makes it so utterly charming. Of course, people should care deeply about what’s going on in the world (four more years!), but for an hour quite late at night after lots and lots of worktime, finally being invited to actually not give a fuck about your career or your workload or your new coat feels really bloody excellent.