Simple can often be very effective and that was most certainly the case when Uncanny Theatre brought ‘Instructions for a Better Life’ to The Maltings on Tuesday night.
They may have undeservedly gathered only a handful of locals wanting to lap up their one hour show but at no point did they let on that they were downhearted about their small but captive audience.
Being handed a balloon and instructed to blow it up before taking your seat wasn’t in the mould of grabbing a bag of Minstrels and a drink when it comes to pre-show preparations but it did leave everyone intrigued; a trend that most definitely continued throughout proceedings.
Everything about ‘Instructions for a Better Life’ was fantastically minimal. The 90s is a decade very much in vogue at the moment so the use of old school classroom projectors was, to coin a phrase from a well known spectacle-wearing fashion guru ‘bang on trend’.
The show itself, and I mean no disrespect by this, wasn’t the kind of affair that would have luvvy critics shouting from the rooftops but it was highly imaginative and totally engaging.
And the performers and co-directors- Nicolai Calceon, Natalie Bellingham and Matt Rogers clearly had a lot of passion for their craft and their creation.
‘Instructions for a Better Life’ dared to question why people bow down to superstitions like avoiding black cats and walking under ladders.
To some people adhering to such quirks is like a comfort blanket and the cast explored this notion with a comic narrative centered around Nicolai’s 13. Born on Friday 13, the aptly named 13 was a superstition devotee’s nightmare and so it proved.
The four leaf clover to 13’s short straw was Lucky Man, played by Matt. On the face of things Lucky Man was the hero of the hour but as the plot unravelled he too was exposed as the victim of believing in something without actually having any proof.
Susan, the woman who dared to open an umbrella indoors, gave Natalie an interesting on stage alias and she also made roving TV reporter Donna a shoo-in for any job openings on ‘Daybreak!’
They say three’s a crowd but with Uncanny it certainly wasn’t. Their script was garnished with poignant real life experiences which added to the show’s impact.