The Family Plot - theatre review

Future Perfect present The Family Plot, an evening of storytelling by emerging writers based loosely around the theme of family. Such a theme is often a rich mine of intrigue, jealousy, love and general weirdness and on this count The Family Plot does not disappoint. We are witness to the stories of four writers, who all cover the topic in wildly different ways, but all entertaining and engaging in their own way.

Stephanie Gerra, brings us ‘Touched’ and ‘The Strange Relic’. ‘Touched’ is a marvellous story, beautifully told from the point of view of a baby still in its mother’s womb, and tells us her daily routines through the muffled sounds it hears and the biological reactions its mother has. In ‘The Strange Relic’, Gerra paints a briliantly funny picture of Italian family dynamics told through the recounting of a family meal during which a young girl insists on not only sharing her rendition of routines from ‘Cabaret’ but also losing a tooth in a most unorthodox manner.

Emma Fleming with a large helping of laconic Northern charm, tells us the story ‘Peter’s Plan for the End of The World’ in two parts. This story takes place in a pub, The Wellington Arms, which is, as becomes clear to new Landlord Peter, in a state of ‘managed decline’. The pub is the focal point for a variety of local characters, including Nan, who no one knows if she is actually the anyone’s grandmother but is called so anyway by everyone, a ‘only very slightly autistic man’ who runs the pub quiz, Pete’s girlfriend Julia and her son Gus and a young Goth called Jack. Everyday life is blasted out of it’s mundane inanity by what appears to be the coming of the apocalypse and unlikely hero Pete is forced to make a plan to save them.

The twinkly-eyed Irving Jones shares ‘The Pope of New York’ and ‘Marionettes’. ‘The Pope of New York’ is set in the 1980’s in New York City and tells the funny and charming story of the narrator who meets a very odd ‘odd’ couple, which comprises The Armless Man and Pope Alan, who were once lovers but became friends as friends, it seems, are the new family. In ‘Marionette’s, Jones covers another less than conventional interpretation of family, as we meet a man who is an expert at 3D printing. He began with guns and branched out into making marionettes, one of whom is his wife, another their child and another his sister… an odd, but strangely intriguing set-up.

Finally, the host Stephen Keyworth, gives us ‘Nothing but flowers’ and ‘People will only follow you so far’. In the first story, set sometime in the not too distant future, many of our animals and insects are extinct, so in order to fill their gap in the eco-system, humans are employed to do the same jobs. This is how we end up in a dystopia in which with a human ‘bee’, cross-pollinates flowers with cotton buds whilst wearing regulation yellow jersey and carrying an electric ‘stinger’ hanging from his belt. However, problems arise when he falls in love with woman who he has observed from afar through her window and he decides to take action. In the second story, no running ‘peeping tom’ theme intended by Keyworth here I assume, we hear about a man who unwittingly finds himself stalking his ex-girlfriend, creeping into her house and possibly, accidentally murdering her mother. This story is as funny as it is disturbing in its exploration of the madness we often find ourselves afflicted by after a relationship break-up and highlights how easy it is not to see how far gone we are until it’s too late.

In all, the show was extremely enjoyable and engaging, its simple format allowing one to simply sit back and enjoy being briefly swept away into these worlds (despite being blasted by an uncomfortably cold air con unit – Camden Head take note!). The writers were all extremely watchable/listenable to (if that’s not a thing, it is now!), but the stand out performance of the night for me went to Stephanie Gerra.

Future Perfect is highly recommended if you are in the market for a laid-back evening of something that’s not quite theatre, not quite comedy, not quite literature either, but has you leaving with a satisfied smile nonetheless.

© Madelaine Moore 2013

DATE SEEN 6.8.13
VENUE The Camden Head (part of Camden Fringe Festival)
RUN DATES 5th & 6th August

Stephanie Gerra
Emma Fleming
Irving Jones
Stephen Keyworth


Author's review: