How to Climb Mount Everest

Tuesday, 30 August, 2011


London – The Camden People’s Theatre – 19-21 Aug 2011

A small sofa chair covered in a green material sits in the centre of the stage.  A coat is draped over it.  To the left there is a small box covered in white material.  A drum is next to it and there is a brown leather coat on the floor.  A tall up-light lamp stands to the right of the stage.  There is also what appears to be a paper-mache aeroplane on the floor.  The mix of objects makes it difficult and intriguing to decipher how they will be used to ‘Climb Mount Everest’.  Who is going to climb Mount Everest?  Is it the real Mount Everest or a metaphor for something in a person’s life that they need to overcome and conquer?  How does one climb Mount Everest really?  What kind of preparation does it take?  Is this going to be a how-to guide to climbing?  There are so many questions.  So many cold feelings as the high snowy peak is imagined before the action begins.

A man suddenly bursts in and rustles onto the stage wearing a cream polo jumper, green trousers and brown ankle boots with laces all the way up.  He welcomes the audience to his show.  A second man bursts in wearing cream trousers, a white striped shirt and black shoes.  It is quite an entrance for both.  Evidently something wonderful is about to be revealed…wait for it.  The second man says ‘I’ve been stuck…on the toilet’.  He then recounts, in mock anger aimed at his companion, how he was locked in the toilet and therefore forced to swim through the u-bend and the sewer with poo flying past his head.  He came up through the ladies’ toilet.  He apologises to a woman in the audience.  He says he is ‘covered in toilet water’ but he is ‘a forgiving friend so I forgive you’.

It is an humorous start to a play that now has so many possibilities.  How is a swim through a toilet going to lead to Mount Everest?  Who knows?  The image of a man swimming through excrement water in a nice suit is enough of a picture and conundrum to keep one amused, confused and fully ready to enjoy the delights ahead.

There are indeed an abundance of delights ahead.  The two men re-start the play together, with both of them, minus any toilet mishaps.  The paper mache aeroplane turns out to be a well-crafted stork puppet.  One man dons this as he makes it fly and deliver a baby to a man in the start of a beautiful and skilled summary of a man’s whole life all expertly acted by Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc.

The following action tells the story of a man’s last day at work and the quest to find adventure, which in this case, happens to be learning How to Climb Mount Everest.  Sam Gibbs is the man and also the narrator from earlier who had the unfortunate encounter with the sewer system.

Sam Gibbs acts with enthusiasm and conviction.  His ‘average man put in unfortunate circumstances seeking adventure and a new life’ is interesting to watch grow and develop.  His facial expressions capture the moments precisely.  The humour never stops.  He draws the attention but does not draw away from Nusret Ozguc.  He goes through various emotions and the audience go with him.  A scene with an angry neighbour and his oblivious nature and naivety of the situation is engaging.

Nusret Ozguc plays the other narrator that put his friend in the toilet situation.  He also plays various household items and the explorer who mentors the man.  Yes, I said he plays household items.  To see the human radio is something altogether wonderful, jovial and admirable.  Where do you think the dials for tuning the radio station are?  The human shower is also equally amusing, as is the photocopier.  This is the kind of amusing visual, which makes one laugh out loud and really enjoy the laugh.  A person may even go home and try to recreate the human photocopier when describing the play to someone else but not do it justice.  A person may do this, they may not.  Nusret Osguc plays them as if this were a normal thing to do and is believable and never loses concentration or comes out of character.  His explorer character is also a nice contrast to the others.  He is a stern trainer and uses mannerisms well to convey the authority of this figure and the arrogance too.

Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc do all the sound effects for the whole show.  It is a sight to see and something special to experience.  The props become irrelevant and almost obstructive.  They are simply not needed as Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc play everything so skilfully that you would prefer to focus on them without the distraction of the props.

Sam Gibbs has written a great play that is not offensive, which is a welcome relief.  It has interesting characters with a good story about a normal man that searches for a better life.  It is something that all can enjoy and also relate to.  Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc have devised a play with intellect and fun.  It clearly has had much input and thought gone into each second of the performance.  They address the audience and bring them into the piece further.  We become fellow travellers on this journey of self-discovery.  Chris Browning’s skills have obviously been advantageous as Assistant Director too.  The photography by Paul White to promote the show is fitting and captures the essence of the piece and the characters.

This is the kind of play that you hope to see when you visit the theatre.  It is a gem in London.  It is the wonderfully kept secret that you cannot keep.  It is the story you have to share with the jokes that gets everyone going.  They say in the play ‘this is Mount Everest, well, it’s theatre, use your imagination’.  You really do to need much more imagination as Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc have started painting an intricate tapestry of imagination for us already.  See this and paint your world vibrant.

Cast Credits:  Sam Gibbs – narrator and man.  Nusret Ozguc – narrator, explorer and objects.

Company Credits:  Writer – Sam Gibbs.  Devised by – Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc.  Assistant Director – Chris Browning.  Photography – Paul White.  Company – Autojeu Theatre.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer 2011

Reviewed Friday 19th August 2011



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