Buddy Buddy / Starman Fisher by You're Only Massive / Dee Roycroft

Despite a somewhat chaotic start – a late change of venue and time, a further delay in advance of the performances – these two workshop productions offered interesting, if not always fully realised, interrogations of the theatrical process.

Of the two shows, Starman Fisher, which is a short, twenty minute or so inquiry into the subject of human cloning, is the more effective. Devised by Dee Roycroft and performed with the help of Jason Byrne, it is a mix of discussion, delivery of facts and fantastical - or maybe not so fantastical - visions of the future. Against a backdrop of moving images, which humorously depict the world as it might be if it were peopled by clones, Roycroft and Byrne discuss 'ethical' issues, such as whether plants have feelings, and why carrots emit some sort of pheromone before they are harvested. They go on to read out a list of facts about cloning, past, present and future, reminding us how close we may be to something most of us still reflect upon in the abstract.

Roycroft's subject matter is unusual – although not exactly new; Caryl Churchill, for one, has already considered the notion of human cloning with her play, A Number. Churchill did so within the context of a more conventional piece of work, one with a narrative arc and recognisable characters. In contrast, Roycroft and Byrne present something akin to performance art: a multimedia event that encourages us to consider - in mostly humorous fashion - the impact of an aspect of science that is still discussed only infrequently. The show is intriguing, but given that it is still a work in progress, it feels a little rough around the edges, with the opening discussion between Byrne and Roycroft somewhat exclusive, if nonetheless compelling.

The second show, Buddy Buddy, also has its own kind of charm, even though, in general, the show feels chaotic: meaning it is fun, but not necessarily coherent. Once again, the piece is a work-in-progress, devised by the audio group You're Only Massive, and the premise appears to be something along the lines that a band gets lost on the road someplace, some sort of terrible event ensues, and disaster and destruction create a kind of parallel universe. The work feels like a cross between a road movie and a piece of music theatre, although, on the whole, it's hard to work out exactly what is going on. And so, we have to go with the flow.

In so doing, we watch two female performers sing songs, against the backdrop of both live and recorded music; read out lines from a script; devour fast food, and have a fight on stage. The girls have energy and enthusiasm, but at this stage in its development, it's difficult to figure out exactly this play's reason for being. Like Starman Fisher, it has an exclusive feel, with the performers in the know, and the audience bemused – if at the same time amused – by what is taking place in front of them.

It’s good to see Cork Midsummer offering young artists an opportunity to showcase new approaches to theatre. Nonetheless, even unconventional work needs to reach out to its audience: if these shows are to go forward from here they need to attempt to be as engaging as they are diverting.

Rachel Andrews is a journalist and critic based in Cork.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Buddy Buddy / Starman Fisher by You're Only Massive / Dee Roycroft

26 and 27 June, 2010

Produced by You're Only Massive / Dee Roycroft
In The Drama Lab, University College Cork

Presented as part of the 2010 Cork Midsummer Fest: www.corkmidsummer.com