Tonight’s main attraction was to be 30 Bird’s Production of ‘Poland 3 Iran 2’, billed as ‘The Perfect Pub Conversation about football, fathers, revolution, swimming, chess, love and Subbuteo’, but first up was Gareth Morgan’s piece, ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages: Nottingham Forest, my father and me’.
|Births, Deaths and Marriages: Nottingham Forest, my father and me|
Morgan’s piece is, as you’d expect from the title autobiographical, but was performed tonight by Richie Garton, who stood in for the absent author. It concerns details of his birth, his formative experience in becoming a Forest fan and his relationship with his father through this shared love. The twist is that the piece is designed to be performed on a coach as it takes us to tonight’s main show at the Forest Ground, via Morgan’s birthplace in Sherwood. And it was this twist that was the problem with the show. Garton tried to synchronise the script with the locations we were passing but this often led to timing difficulties or to him trying to fill time as we waited to get to the next location. The final passage, which didn’t rely on the synchronicities of narration and place was by far the best bit as Morgan/Garton rediscovered his bond with his team, his home and his father and reconciled his twin loves of theatre and Forest.
Despite the difficulties of traffic and geography Garton brought a charm and likability to the piece that well suited Morgan’s honest and touching writing. An interesting concept that needs more thought if it’s to really work but a worthwhile and diverting exercise.
|Poland 3 Iran 2|
‘Poland 3 Iran 2’ is performed by the artist Chris Dobrowolski and writer/director Mehrdad Seyf, with the aid of a large screen and a laptop that projects photos, maps and film to support their stories. I say performed, but the impression gained was, as advertised, more of overhearing a particularly animated pub conversation between two great storytellers with a lot of great stories to tell. Iranian born Seyf deals with the more political aspect of the show, mixing the comic tale of his parent’s courtship, his childhood in Iran and the time his father and uncle spent in prison for political crimes. Dobrowolski’s stories focussed more on him growing up in Essex with comic reminiscences about holidays in Poland, Panini football stickers and being the sort of child who used football as a springboard for both his imagination and as a focus for his nerdiness. Both men were able to be funny without trying too hard and be reflective without being sentimental.
The joy of the show was the way that the two men, who’d taken very different roads through life, were able to find resonances between themselves and their experiences. Parallels between their childhoods, their relationships with their fathers, revolutions in their countries and their love of the beautiful game all drifted into and out of focus throughout the show. That the audience were free to sit back and enjoy the stories as simple anecdotes or to fit them into a larger narrative added to the show’s quality. The pacing throughout was excellent and the visual aids, as you’d expect from an artist, were very well thought out and added a lot to the evening.
Poland may have beaten Iran 3-2 at the Montreal Olympics in the titular game, but tonight the winner was theatre. Another great show from NEAT/Hatch.
7th June 2011