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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Anniversary (fortyfivedownstairs) - 60 minutes without interval

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

Theatre of the absurd mixed with slapstick, The Anniversary is an hour of mime with sound effects and a smattering of exhortations, along with one song.

Jim (Daniel Tobias) and Barb (Clare Bartholomew) are elderly.

Their bladder and bowel control – especially his – aren’t what they used to be.

Neither is his hearing.

When they eat, as much of their food ends up on the floor as in their mouths.

He’s also got a devious streak, the intent of which is to be left alone to study the form guide.

All seems to be going as well as it can be until both realise – to their horror – that they have forgotten the most important anniversary of their lives ... their 50th.

Then it becomes a mad scramble to prepare.

He is sent off to the supermarket and from that point I honestly couldn’t make out much of what followed ... other than mayhem.

Suffice to say, things deteriorate and the pair is literally ready to kill each other.

Photos by Aaron Walker

He prepares a meal that includes a dead rat caught in a mouse trap, a “dove” pie and a rabbit shake.

And speaking of the vitamiser, there is a blender mishap.

Oh, yeah ... and friends arrive to help give the “celebration” a kick along, during which Barb and Jim “perform”. The latter component also includes audience participation.

Much of The Anniversary is off the wall.

Some of it is clever, some funny, some silly and some just didn’t make sense to me.

In fact, a significant amount of time I had no idea what was going on.

Perhaps it was just me being thick, but that, of course, is the difficulty with mime.

Unless it is obvious, it can be obtuse ... and for all the positives, for all the outrageous humour, I felt too much of it was.

There were several “cloud storms” created by a theatrical fog machine. I’m not sure why.

And we finish with a dream sequence.

Don’t get me wrong, Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias are very talented.

They “bounce off” each other well and they generate audience laughs.

Some of The Anniversary is, indeed, a perverse pleasure.

I simply would have enjoyed it more if I understood more of it.

The sound design and composition by Ben Hense from Beat Tank Studio, which has such impact, really hits the mark.

I also appreciated the lighting and set design – which includes four doorways, two constituting the toilet and bathroom and the others the kitchen and bedroom – by Bronwyn Pringle.

In the context of what goes down, the set up works well.

Devised by Peter Houghton, Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias (and directed by the former), The Anniversary is playing at fortyfivedownstairs until 21st February, 2021.


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