Do you fancy coming to the theatre with me?”
When asked this question, it’s interesting to think about the expectations of what a night at the theatre will entail. In many minds it suggests a play, with characters, events, a climax, a start, an end, and so on. If instead you ask “do you fancy coming to the theatre with me to see Forced Entertainment’s Real Magic?”, those expectations of yours may have to get ready to re-evaluate themselves.
Forced Entertainment are a contemporary theatre company that constantly push the boundaries of what we can do with the format of theatre. How the use of lights, sound, tempo, volume, and various other components can be manipulated to put you on the edge of your seat in a very unfamiliar way. This feeling of strange uncertainty is definitely one created in Real Magic; a performance reflecting on “optimism, individual agency, and the desire for change”. The three performers, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall and Jerry Killick, loop an ever changing and unforgiving scenario over and over. The 85 minutes performance is filled with repetitions of the chicken dance and the word ‘algebra’.
As an audience member, it felt like I had been sucked into a void where time no longer existed. I could not have told you if they had been performing for 2 minutes or 2 days, and I was left suspended in a strange bubble of frustration. This frustration in conjunction with pure intrigue is one that I think is incredibly hard to achieve; gaining enjoyment from a feeling of discomfort is a key success of the show. I’d liken my experience as a spectator similarly to what it is like watching an incredibly slow and elongated scene in Lynch’s Twin Peaks. However, for this feeling to be created live in front of my eyes for 85 minutes was spectacular.
The simple variations in vocal tone, pace and volume throughout the performance is fascinating. I am extremely impressed by the multitude of different and engaging ways Forced Entertainment manage to say the same words over and over; enhanced by their comic gestures. A feature of this performance that I think is really important is the hilarity. Whether laughing at a man dancing stupidly in his pants, or laughing at absolute silence, the show uses comedy to entertain, but also enhance this inherent want for change.
At some points, the repetition of the show did become very draining. But, I know that is probably the point and therefore embrace my anger. I’d say don’t go and watch Real Magic if you’re already exhausted. Or maybe do. Just be ready to experience a hole in time swallowing you up and potentially falling through a vortex of repetition for eternity.
Forced Entertainment’s Real Magic is on at HOME for two more performances. More details can be found on their website: https://homemcr.org/production/forced-entertainment-real-magic/