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77

The Piece of Paper Paradox.

A: F, I’ve told you that we mustn’t look at the piece of paper. It’s been consigned to the error container.

F: But supposing that it was put into the container by error?

A: It’s still against the regulations to take it out again.

E: Indeed!

F: But taking it out will rectify an error which is also against the regulations.

A: You mustn’t look at that piece of paper. We cannot allow our orderly office and our important system to be polluted by what that piece of paper might say.

E: Indeed!

F: I don’t care! I’m going to take it out! I’m going to read it!

A: No! Help!

The piece of paper [as read by F]: Gentlemen, it will surprise you to learn that you are all, in fact, fictional characters in the Blue Moon Theatre Company’s “The Piece of Paper Paradox” at the Surgeons’ Hall. Don’t be alarmed – yours’ is not a bad lot. This is a gentle, pleasant play which will entertain adults and children alike. The story concerns an authoritarian system but, significantly, it always remains an English authoritarian system. It is like George Orwell’s 1984 but with most of the explicitly Stalinist elements toned down. The memory hole, for example, is now a wastepaper basket.

We join four twits in an office and, arranged before piles of paperwork, they are locked into a regime of rather beautifully synchronised rubber-stamping. They resemble Kraftwerk in “We are the Robots,” if Kraftwerk were civil servants instead of robots. One of them starts to question the entire system after processing a piece of paper which is bright revolutionary red and practically the only colourful thing on stage. This play’s allegorical legs may not run very far or carry it to many original places, but the performance is still accomplished as a chamber farce. The action on stage is a mixture of perfect timing and jolly spontaneity and the result is a lot of fun to watch. All the best, Tychy.

E: So what does it say?

F: I can’t make head nor tail of it. Read it yourself.

A: I forbid it! We must get back to our paperwork immediately!

The Greenville Ghost

Tom Bonnington’s “The Greenville Ghost,” which is currently established at C Nova, does not receive a full review because Tychy fell asleep in the middle of it. But if Queen Jane Productions want “neurologically-replenishing! Tychy.” plastered across their posters, they are free to help themselves.

This is all my fault, of course. I had doused myself in Guinness prior to the show and ten minutes in I was struggling to keep my head above the black waves. I ended up in that curious state of mind when you are asleep but still trying to do an impersonation of somebody who is awake. Blinking profusely, my head gradually filled up with eyelids which fluttered like the wings of thousands of rising, spiralling butterflies. This is one of those plays which my subconscious could probably review better than my conscious mind. I shall have to consult a hypnotist.

Anyway, from what I gathered “The Greenville Ghost” is a farce about a hotel which tries to rebrand itself with some spooky publicity. It is like Fawlty Towers but without any of the memorable characters; Basil, Sybil and Manuel are gone, and we are left with the Major as the hotelier and Polly as his wife. Max Fitzroy-Stone plays the snorting, eye-popping proprietor, with some lavish fuddy-duddy energy and a face permanently stricken with discomfort. Saffia Sage is his smarty-pants wife. There is a seedy-looking exorcist (the story doesn’t require an exorcist) and the conventionally spivvy journalist. Despite several effective one liners, this play comes across as insubstantial even for a farce… but the production was still more professional than a reviewer who was using the Greenville Hotel literally as a hotel and finally catching up on a good night’s rest.

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