Oxford – Burton Taylor Studio – 7 to 10 April 10 – 21:30 (22.30)
The opening set is minimal with two Intimate Stranger posters stuck on black panels which run the length of the stage. The posters show the First World War moustachioed army man pointing his finger. There are three chairs on the stage. Upbeat dance music is playing. Pre-recorded sketch clips are played; these opening sketches are war themed.
When the performers come on stage the first scenario is about making a Bond film and these characters come back for more Bond sketches which builds to a very amusing climax.
After an Anne Frank sketch the show moves on from war references to varied topics including TV programmes such as Bill and Ben and The Weakest Link. The show would have felt more coherent with a consistent theme running through all the sketches.
Sketch highlights include:
Matthew Rose as a hunched over beatbox reverend who rhymes residential care to the tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This is very funny.
Harry Charrington is a modern day Hamlet with a little hair weave – a distressed teenager writing emotive poetry, and Rose Wardlaw plays Ophelia who offers to cheer him up.
Matthew Rose and James Taylor Thomas are two-faced grannies who don’t like their meal but enjoy their waiter.
Harry Charrington is Rolf Harris in animal hospital who runs over Rose Wardlaw’s cat and tries to resuscitate it with a sexy dance and his autograph.
Rose Wardlaw’s cookery section with wine and flan and more wine is very amusing.
In between sketches the performers go behind the black panels to change props and costumes, the lights are dimmed and the pre-recorded audio sketches are played, many of which are spoken by Rose Wardlaw who also does the voice overs for the Bill and Ben sketches. She has a great radio voice. The set is changed by Chris Markham.
Direction is by The Cast, the flow of sketches is slightly interrupted by disappearance for costume changes. The technician – Alan Lewis ensures there isn’t a gap between live and recorded sketches. Although the audio sketches are entertaining and keep the show moving it seems a shame to leave the stage empty momentarily without a focal point – it reduces attention. Enjoyment of the show could be enhanced with a permanent visual presence.
There are some solo performer monologue sketches which are amusing. The props and costumes are very good – this is managed by Chris Markham, a lot of attention to detail went into this such as the grannies wigs, all the Bond outfits and the outfits and set for Bill and Ben.
The Intimate Strangers Want You is worth seeing for the Bond sketches alone – the director/James Bond wants ‘Guns. And sequins. And sequins on guns’ and everyone gets an eyeful of his companion Tracy Sexy Face – Harry Charrington – in a bikini.
There are some great ideas in the show and it will be interesting to see how The Intimate Strangers – written by Matthew Rose develops it in the future.
Cast Credits: (alpha order): Harry Charrington. Matthew Rose. James Taylor Thomas. Rose Wardlaw. Cameos: Chris Markham
Company Credits: Writer – Matthew Rose. Director – The Cast. Technician – Alan Lewis. Costumes – Chris Markham. Props – Chris Markham. Stage Manager – Chris Markham. Company: Confugium Stage. http://www.confugium.com http://www.intimatestrangers.net
(c) Wendy Thomson
reviewed Saturday 10th April 2010 / Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford UK