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Corpses Cut Up And Rearranged

This evening I went to see The Exquisite Corpse at the Southwark Playhouse.

A play based on the same idea as consequences was clearly going to be excellent.

Rather than getting the authors to write a line each and fold over the paper and pass it on, 5 writers wrote sixteen scenes in isolation from each other, each one based on a painting. The order the scenes were played on the evening was then governed by the audience, the cast had no idea what scene came next until the number was projected onto the screen at the rear of the stage.

In the bar before the performance there were 16 fairly random items representing the different themes (everything from a banana to an alarm clock. a bowler hat, a book and a plant). Just before the performance someone came and checked what order they were in and that was the order of the play.

Obviously, there was no clear plot running through the scenes, but because the same writers had written multiple scenes, there were characters and themes that kept reappearing. It was like looking through little windows into another world, and what a surreal world it was..

It had angles, shoe fairies, people who had conversations with the talking clock, a dog visiting a psychiatrist and men waltzing with step ladders amongst a general mish-mash of everything. Some of the scenes were really quite emotional though, the first scene we saw, for example, involved a woman who had been drowned and was worrying about who was going to look after her child and there was another where there young man who was in a mess with drugs and had just met his father who had left when he was very young and then lost him again.

One of the things that really impressed me, was that rather than just run the scenes back to back, they had little chaotic transitions where they were still acting out parts of the play whilst moving bits of the set around and changing costumes. It was amazing the way it seemed to make all these disjoint scenes seemlessly flow together.

All in all, it's an absolute must see and it's on at the Southwark Playhouse until 30 May.

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