It’s Friday evening and I’m sitting in a sixty-seat theatre just off Tottenham Court Road.
A few metres in front of me, an Iberian bumblebee is scat singing whilst making sexually suggestive expressions and movements towards the audience. Moments later, a pair of flowers appear on stage, singing about how the bee may or may not have pollinated them, before launching into a typically Sloane-y discussion about birth control, boys and bitches. And then there’s me, sitting on the end of the third row, laughing hysterically. I don’t know about you, but this isn’t my typical Friday night.
What first drew me to Intuitive Creatures’ latest production, Intuit This, was the synopsis that landed in my inbox a few weeks ago. It read like this:
…it was even better than I could have imagined…
Old-fashioned English gentleman Steven and traumatised Spanish lover Renata have a complaint about their holiday in Greece; a doomed love making session in an olive grove has left Renata in disarray. A deranged bumblebee called Brian has mercilessly assaulted the Spanish siren’s posterior leaving Steven desperate for justice.
The combination of a very distressed Senorita, a socially awkward Englishman and mentally unbalanced bumblebee was surely too good to be true. But nay, dear reader, it was even better than I could have imagined. I went into it with some light scepticism, convinced this was either going to fall flat on its face or be one of the best things I have ever seen. I’m happy to report it was the latter.
…asked to imagine we were on one of Saturn’s outer rings…
The well-prepared changing screens and complete lack of staging relied on the audience’s imagination to carry the story from Spanish olive grove to English police station and back again. So enthralling were the actors, however, that this was hardly a demanding task. Were we asked to imagine we were on one of Saturn’s outer rings, this wouldn’t have been a problem – part of what makes this incredibly group of actors and, in turn, the production, so successful.
The four actors changed roles so swiftly you barely noticed, seamlessly moving between policeman, lover, bumblebee, flower and blade of grass; these blades have several moments of ‘breathing space’ to themselves, a bizarre yet hilarious interlude to the fast-paced action. Each of the four had their moment in the limelight, with certain characters taking centre stage at one point or another, singing, dancing and shouting their way into the production. They all interacted with the audience brilliantly, at one point even giving an audience member a new hairstyle which was inexplicably combed back into shape almost immediately.
…it only appeared to add to the absolute absurdity of the production…
At only fifty minutes or so, the play is short, but perfectly formed. Had we been asked to stay in this fantasy world, narrated by a bumblebee prancing around like a cross between Russell Brand and Antonio Banderas, I think our ability to suspend all belief may have been pushed. The fact that the ending wasn’t entirely resolved didn’t even matter; it only appeared to add to the absolute absurdity of the production. Whether or not Intuit This makes another appearance soon, it would be a good choice to keep an eye on these four actors; Dan Onslow, Paula Valluerca, Roisin O’Mahony and Chiara Goldsmith. Their natural playfulness, spontaneity and infectious sense of fun will carry them across London and, perhaps, to an olive grove to Spain, where I sincerely hope they won’t run into a deranged bumblebee.
Check out our interview with Dan Onslow right here.