A great idea isn't followed through in Junction 25's Anoesis. A lack of cohesion and an overload of metaphors marrs what, in theory, should have been a hard-hitting and original performance.
As your name is taken and you sit at oversized desks with test papers and pens in front of you, the company has certainly achieved the feeling of a school exam hall. The clinical, uneasy sense of the unknown fills the auditorium as the production begins. The sporadic performance then moves swiftly between many different devised segments interspersed with exam questions read out in sections which even the top university students probably couldn't answer one hundred percent correctly.
There are many different messages created in Anoesis from the concept that education isn't for everyone no matter how much it's forced on you to how knowledge doesn't always create a fast-pass entry into a solid career.
The clever techniques imposed by the young cast really hammer home these ideas. for example as one random audience member is complimented continuously for their hard work Lilly, an unfortunate school girl who evidently doesn't want to be there, is ridiculed for not sticking in.
The cast read their report card comments as monologues and give complimentary stars to members of the audience who have done no more or less than anyone around them turning anything they can into a metaphorical stance.
It is with some of these physical metaphors that the piece becomes a little disjointed. Certain segments are difficult to define and very drawn out, often to a point of boredom on the audience's part. At least twice in the production, all of the performers storm the middle of the traverse playing space and take part in what appears to be an elongated game of wall-to-wall tig. As some of them very dramatically fall over, there is some meaning behind this odd act but what aspect of their theme they are trying to highlight is difficult to decipher. That said, the audience participation is carried out well with all of the performers able to ad-lib according to any situation that arises, creating a very relateable piece.
This production is unfortunate in its execution as perhaps with just a little more time this could have become the groundbreaking play it is publicised as. At the moment you can't help but feel Anoesis could do with a little more time in the classroom.
Anoesis runs until 25 August at Summerhall.
Reviewer: Liam Blain