Wednesday , May 22 2024
What will get young audiences through the doors? On this evidence, pure, unadulterated, unpretentious fun.

Theater Review: Tuesdays! The Bar Where Everyone Knows Your Shame! at the Albany (London)

Perhaps when you were young you'd get together with the neighbourhood kids, or the extended family, or maybe even in the school playground, and make up a play. There'd be a great deal of enthusiasm, and a not very coherent plot, since that was determined by each player's interests.

One would be right into Westerns, so out would come the six-guns, another obsessed with the Ancient Egyptians, so that explained the mummy, then to top it all off there'd be the Cold War spy movie enthusiast, with complicated, not to say incomprehensible explanations of motivation.

That's pretty well what you get with Tuesdays! The Bar Where Everyone Knows Your Shame. It began last Monday with most of those elements, mixed in with some distinctly adult sexuality, if sexuality played for laughs.

Yet none of those above statements is a criticism. This is joyous, unself-conscious, utterly childish fun. The corniest line is played with such wholehearted enthusiasm that there's nary a groan all night – just explosive guffaws.

The plot; now I will briefly summarise the plot, for this is a rolling story – this week will be, on Monday and Tuesday, the next episode in this multi-period soap, the rest of last week having been devoted, I suspect, to the construction of this week's tale. And so it will progress until March 6 at the basement of The Albany, the pub opposite Warren St Tube.

We're in a bar, sometimes in 1806, sometimes in 2007. In the earlier time the bar is being built by the ambitious but unprincipled Isaac Tuesdays (James Riches), who has received his funding from the local factory owners, in whose morals and motivations he has an unwarranted trust.

In modern times the bar is about to be blown up by the scheming Barry Sudweekes (Simon Lee Phillips), until he's convinced of the economic disadvantages by his partner in bars — definitely the brains of the two — Magda Nixon (Kirsten Shaw). Into the modern mix comes an Australian "immigration" agent (Simon Yadoo) and his prisoner, an impossibly seductive fast-talking schemer (Adam Riches).

Okay – that's enough plot. Isaac commits suicide in the end, and the escaped prisoner ends up sleeping with every woman his captor ever knew – but to expect that to make much sense would be expecting the wrong thing entirely.

This is a loosely linked collection of sketches, gags and quick one-liners. The dorky kid Spark Grinder (Jot Davies) is given the chance to do his party trick – a knee-shattering athletic and utterly graceless Coassack-style dance; the Aussies get in a dig about England cricketers; striking images such as "as nice as jelly on a plate full of hair" slide into your brain to stir your stomach.

Many of the great brains of theatre spend much time pondering how to get young people through their doors; well, last week the average age of the audience must have hovered around 23 – the answer from this sample would seem to be "pure, unadulterated, unpretentious fun".

Only one real complaint: the smoke fug in the bar that is really played as such. Audiences should be warned; this is no setting for asthma sufferers.

Mondays and Tuesdays at the Albany until March 6. Each week a new "installment". Bookings: 0207 387 5706.

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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