Forced Entertainment are a group of six artists from Sheffield. They began working together after meeting at Exeter University in 1984, so the fact that they are still creating, in these culturally belt tightened times, is an achievement in itself.
Many critics, including the revered Lyn Gardner, deem Forced Entertainment’s brand of experimental theatre as important, they are abstract and avant-garde and have been practicing their craft for so many years that they make improvised theatre seem, well, seemless.
I was a Forced Entertainment virgin until seeing their recent offering 'The Coming Storm' at the BAC and I have to admit, that as a product of musical theatre and soap operas, I found the lack of narrative and any kind of story perplexing at first.
The premise is the continual sharing of exaggerated tales of many subjects, including pirates, coach trips and kidnapping (none with any resolution). Sometimes they resonated with real life and the tedium of feigning interest in small talk, if only one could grab the microphone in reality.
There were moments of humor, an attempted hanging (it was humorous believe me), Russian dialogue, and a crocodile. People got changed continuously on stage, but never did any zips up. There was a lot of dancing and drums being played badly. Often I thought I was witnessing an increasingly drunken office Christmas party.
It’s not a show I wholly understood on first watch but I will certainly be back to see them again when they return for a two week run in November.
The Coming Storm
20 Nov - 1 Dec 2012
Battersea Arts Centre, London
Photo: Hugo Glendinning