By Mark Bolsover
Greenlight Theatre present the sister-show to their Seeing Double: Vision. The show revolves around an innovative and fascinating concept. In Seeing Double: Figures, in the surroundings of a small, sparse space, dominated by a large television screen, a production team spy on the efforts of director Julio Buenaventura and his deluded ensemble of actors to produce a show in the near identical surrounds of Pleasance Courtyard’s ‘Baby Grand’ space. The concept provides an intriguing hook for Figures and the material is driven by the fine comic performances of the cast, who present a great shared sense of pace and timing, though, as is the case with Vision, some of the dialogue exchanges and jokes seemed to fall flat. The piece presents a wry parody of the pretensions of production design and avant-garde theatre, complementing the mockery of pretentious artistic self-reflection in Vision.
Though it is difficult to say, as this reviewer saw Vision first, in contrast to Vision, Figures does not feel as though it could run as a stand alone piece. Though it echoes the effective narrative structure of its sister-show and incorporates the same crude but amusing and effective device for signposting its shifts in time, Figures relies more on the underlying relationship between the two shows than does Vision. The material feels somewhat flatter, and lacks the pace and energy of its sibling. Not enough is made of the conceit of spying on the otherwise prohibited performance space, with only one or two glimpses before the show’s conclusion, though where it is used, the connection provides an extremely clever relationship to the action of Vision and the concept of the underlying link between the two shows develops well towards their mutual conclusion.
Not needing as much room as its counterpart, the production makes good use of the limited space, props and resources at its disposal.
Though ultimately reliant on Vision, which worked more coherently as a potential stand alone piece and felt larger and more robust than Figures, the central concept allows for the shows to be seen in either order, with the experience of both altered accordingly through the fleshing out of context only alluded to in the other.
Intriguing in the main for the light it sheds on its sister-show, and therefore reliant on its central concept, Figures is nonetheless an ambitious and effective piece of parodic farce.