A Very Very Very Dark Matter at Bridge Theatre

A Very Very Very Dark Matter
A Very Very Very Dark Matter at Bridge Theatre

I normally begin my reviews by setting the scene briefly – a description of what the show is about but even as I read back the show description I find myself baffled. This is Martin McDonagh’s newest piece and therefore comes with high hopes and expectations. The premise of a Very Very Very Dark Matter is focused on the fact that Hans Christian Andersen’s stories were not penned by him, they were actually penned by a black pygmy women, with one foot (he cut off her other) who he kept in a small hanging box in his attic.  However as Andersen travels to meet Charles Dickens he discovers he is not alone in this habit….. All of this combined with a pair of time travelling blood soaked Belgium brothers fresh from fighting in the Congo makes for a bizarre evening at the theatre.

Very very very dark matterThe play is clearly trying to make a point about those voices that are silenced and those that are celebrated however these themes are swamped by contradictions. Jim Broadbent plays Hans Christian Andersen, a man who is supposed to believably keep a pygmy in a box, feed her sausages through a hole and cut off her foot yet he is jovial and playful with Marjory, he comes across as eccentric rather than vile.

The tone of the play at times is crude, frequent swearing from all on stage, which I don’t have an issue with if it serves a purpose however in this instance it appears to attempt to shock rather than deliver any real meaning. A Very Very Very Dark Matter tries to be comic, albeit darkly, but other than the odd chuckle it falls flat on this front with the subject matter giving little cause for laughter.

very very very dark matterDespite this I was impressed with Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles debut in the role of Majory. She portrays the role cleverly with a good sense of balance, between anger and frustration and the occasional flash of mania.

Whilst I struggle to find many redeeming features about the actual play I did enjoy the set design by Anna Fleischle. It conjured up the perfect macabre feel of the attic, with lifeless puppets and a 3ft hanging box, which opens the show by simply swinging monotonously from side to side.

A Very Very Very Dark Matter leaves the audience very very very baffled with an incoherent message and an unappetising manner of delivering the story.

To find out more about A Very Very Very Dark Matter and to book tickets visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Julius Caesar also at Bridge Theatre,  The Trench at Southwark Playhouse and Say My Name! The Unauthorised Breaking Bad Parody Musical.

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