Carmen Paddock reviews Scratchworks Theatre’s’ A Fool’s Proof’ at the Bike Shed Theatre on January 25th as part of the From Devon with Love Festival.
The Bike Shed Theatre’s ‘From Devon With Love’, a January festival of local theatre companies and artists, is a wonderful showcase of short performances which might not be on the regional radar but are no less entertaining than their large-scale counterparts. One such was A Fool’s Proof, produced and created by Scratchworks Theatre Company. These four talented young women put on a high-energy, humorous, and cuttingly-satirical piece scrutinising the media’s obsession with missing children and dramatic life-or-death scenarios (and likewise, the public’s love of such media coverage).
The play followed a budding journalist, her boss, and the other deputy journalist as they fight rival news sources to break the next sensational story – in this case, rumours of a missing girl followed by childlike screams coming from the bottom of a disused well. With each new development, the story becomes more and more dramatic and tensions rise as the three battle to discover the latest information. And then, in a hilarious turn of events, the story vanishes – after the paper has gone to press!
Three of the actors portrayed the journalists and one switched between the ‘trapped girl’ and a visiting celebrity reporter. These characters were noticeably stereotypes – the eager new employee, the bitter ‘glorified spell-checker’. These characters, however, were strong, and the actors powerfully commanded the stage with their larger-than-life personalities. The physical theatre elements of the piece never failed to entertain. Animated clothing, in-motion costume switches, keyboard dance-offs, flying paper, and props doubling as timekeeping devices kept the madcap energy high. In one fantastic sequence, the table became both the office desk and a claustrophobic trap for the well accident ‘victim’.
Although definitely a new and developing production (by Exeter alums, no less), it does not detract from its genuine entertainment quality. It is refreshing to see such unpretentious, creative, and engaging work from budding artists who could quite possibly be the UK’s theatrical future.
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