AUDIENCE REVIEW Preview / Wed 27

The following review took place on the Twenty-Seventh of January, 2016 during a preview audience of BABY by Doppelgangster. Co-produced by MKA | Theatre of New Writing. Presented in association with VAULT Festival.

There is an almost audible buzz from the audience as they enter VAULT Festival’s cramped and muggy musical comedy stage The Pit and while initially they seem unwilling to laugh, later on they do, and very frequently at that. Despite the night’s performance being introduced as a ‘Preview’, those in attendance show a fierce determination to get value for the £8 tickets – by actually viewing the work and there is not a performer amongst the two strong cast who remain unviewed at the close of the evening. But what else should we expect from an audience of MKA and Doppelgangster at VAULT festival; a combination of quality that is typical of London’s fringe scene.

The audience follows a traditional trajectory, first entering and seating, a prolonged period of remaining seated and then finally, they stand and leave. It’s a narrative that has come to tire these performers in recent years, but there is a sense of excitement – a frisson – that so electrifies the space that moments of transcendence once again show the performers the value of the classical approach. This is helped by a smoke machine somewhat obscuring the audience from the performers for a portion of the audience. Whether the intention is to mystify themselves is something many of the cast members were pondering well into the next day.

A particular individual of note is one young man close to the front on the right hand-side who appears to be having a truly wonderful time, however, for those on stage, his spectating is rather too ‘nice’ to be believable. The audience’s true power lies in the collective spectacle created by the 20ish-strong ensemble laughing in unison in the seating bank of the Waterloo Vault’s most intimate, hot and humid venue.

@sarahkosar seemingly addresses the entire world, when she takes to Twitter with her spectatorial notes: “I love your marketing image for BABY. I’m the total target market for that time of photography :)” Does she mean ‘type’ instead of ‘time’? Certainly this is the first assumption, but is it a play on this necessary assumption and does she mean to ask us to self-describe, and in turn, then analyse both ‘time’, and ‘type’, and their dissociative connection in a theatrical, show-going and congregatory context?

It’s yet another example of fervent insight at the very early stages of an audience’s work; and in this case in a classically post-dramatic cum vaudevillian deconstruction of the spatial and temporal limits of spectating. It’s every bit reminiscent of that now classic moment when a representative of VAULT Festival says “We really like having you at the festival, guys,” and when a man on instagram, in possession of the Doppelgangster handle, ignores all of our offers to buy the handle from him.


Reviewers: Tom Payne PhD & Tobias Manderson-Galvin MWrPerf