The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting
archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new
shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of
watching live theatre
No Milk For The Foxes
Beats & Elements, Camden People's Theatre and YouTube Summer 2020
play, written and performed by Conrad Murray and Paul Cree, directed
by Murray, played at the Camden People's Theatre in 2015, with this
video version made available in 2020.
It uses an almost
at a pair of night watchmen in a warehouse to explore and comment on
the lives of the just-barely-employed.
The men don't do much
night watchmaning, but sit around, chatting about various things. In
the process we gradually sense how very narrow their horizons are,
constricted not just by external forces but by the limits of their
They are on zero-hours
contracts, which means that
not only are they not guaranteed any minimal amount of work per week
but that they have none of the legal protections of employees.
have, in fact, not been paid this week, and can do nothing but
grumble half-heartedly, and mention of a union is quickly dropped as
But every other topic of
conversation that comes up
also reveals how small their lives are. Fantasies of riches can go no
further than winning at bingo, dreams of holidays no more elaborate
than a cut-price week at Butlins.
Philosophising on the
them and their grandparents gets no deeper than noticing that the old
folks like to garden, and what sets out to be a heartening tale of a
friendly neighbour peters out in a bleak ending.
The guys grumble a
bit, but what really affects us is how very little better they can
even imagine their lives being. Eventually things actually get worse,
a development so unsurprising to them that they can't work up too
much anger or despair.
The company's name is
Beats And Elements, and
central to their style is punctuating the drama by five beat-boxing
and rapping sequences in which the two performers step up to
microphones and either one speaks rapidly while the other makes
beatbox noises, or they overdub various mouth-generated sounds into
With a strong premise and some effective sequences, the play still meanders a little too much, losing and then rediscovering its focus, and the beatbox numbers seem more like interruptions than enhancements.
There is clearly talent
here, in the writing and performing, but the overall impression, not
unusual in fringe theatre, is of a promising first draft a couple of
rewrites away from full success.
The very basic video recording, made for their archives, has limitations and imperfections that are inescapable but not crippling.
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