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New Greenham Arts - Ideas Men

7th February 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Too ridiculusmus

Ridiculusmus: Ideas Men, at New Greenham Arts, on Saturday, February 7

This show recently won a Peter Brook Open Space award but I found it painfully ridiculous. John Hough and David Woods are the comic duo who are simply off-the-wall with their satirical exploration of two creative consultants, Mike Mullet and Liam Brady, who are under pressure to come up with the next big idea in a pressurised office environment.

They burst onto stage in wheeled chairs, chasing each other around the office dominated by a huge desk and the inevitable clock. The problem is they do not have any new ideas but their boss John McLoughlin has pressurised them into a competition to find the one truly original idea, the Holy Grail. Whoever produces the goods will be rewarded with a £40K cheque and the other will be fired. It doesn’t make for good working relationships and the pressure mounts provoking intense rivalry and much anxiety.

Their search for a concept sees them wracking their brains for inspiration, anything to shirk the responsibilities of work. They use doodles and role-play. Sometimes it is difficult to know when the role play starts and finishes but they have to keep digging “at the coalface of creativity”. To achieve this we have motivational speakers, soap operas, corporate jokes, executive Lego, food, sex and games of office chair tag in fact anything just to come up with something.

Stuck in the four walls of their office the imaginary walk in the countryside complete with animal noises was really very clever.

The plot if there is one, is a confusing multi tiered compendium of ideas that doesn’t quite hang together and is basically absurd schoolboy humour with many planned mistakes, coupled with extracts of the minutiae of office life.

You did have to admire the versatility of the actors as they switched characters, one moment being the boss, then the office secretaries and even each other. The scene with the mannequins was pure pantomime and truly silly humour but I certainly identified with Mike as he pounded his computer with a hammer in total frustration with his situation.

Totally bizarre theatre.