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Life, the Universe and Custard

The Earthworks / Myth, The Other Place, Stratford,until 17 June Ever got chatting to a stranger only to find yourself fascinated by them? Then you will easily identify with the start to Earthworks, the first play in a double bill at the Other Place. It's highly unlikely that viewers will have any first hand experience of the play's setting - a hotel on the eve of the activation of the Large Hadron Collider - but put a man and a woman in a room together and add a bottle of red wine and there's an inevitability about the tension that follows.

Over enthusiastic English journalist Clare pushes calm level-headed scientist Frijof (played by Thomas Magnussen, above) into explaining science to her in a play which has all the hall marks of a well-told short story. There's plenty of humour and some great one-liners, but also a very serious and touching exploration of loss and hope. Following a break to change the set into an all-white modern house in London, the three actors from Earthworks return and are joined by a fourth to form two couples at a suburban dinner party for 'Myth.'

'Myth' is a play in response to the question, 'what is unsayable in the 21st century?' And is dubbed as 'a theatrical experiment into those things we don't want to see or say.' Starting with a farcical dinner party played heavily for laughs, the fripperies of modern life, including Ikea, Tinder, Ubers and Facebook are explored before the play gets darker and disorientating. All the actors work hard in this energetic double bill and convincingly play two different sets of characters. The stand-out actor is Rebecca Humphries who convinces entirely as both Herta the stern hotel manager and Sarah, a woman driven near-mad by modern life. By the end of the evening, the audience is left wondering what exactly happened and are left to contemplate life, the universe and the nature of custard. Deeply thought provoking - but that's the point.

PHOTO: Topher McGrillis

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