Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The Dissection of the Untimely Deaths of Two Unconnected Young People by the People Who Knew Them Least...

tv baby
Devised by the company
Liverpool Unity Theatre
(2005)

Publicity photograph

Two young people die, returning from the dead to see their deaths explored and exploited by a murder re-enactment society and a thoroughly bonkers television news service. Through their eyes we see society’s perpetual fascination with murder, and the pantomime that that fascination can create.

Or at least we would if tv baby weren’t so damned inventive. Refreshingly and rather marvellously this is a show that suffers from too many ideas and too much creativity. There are probably three plays, all good, crammed into Dissection’s brief 65 minute running time. Style clashes with style, ideas are pushed out of the way before they can be properly explored, and a slight tendency toward silliness mars the overall comedy horror of the piece. It’s said that the art of directing is knowing which ideas to leave out. If that’s true then tv baby need a lot of directing.

It would be better, for me at least, if Dissections was less of a comedy. While some moments are genuinely funny, and, silliness aside, all three performers show a genuine comic ability, it’s the quieter, character driven moments, finely delivered by the cast, that haunt.

The cast show great ability, although Jonathan May seems far stronger in the character roles than the comedy, handing in a fine and convincing performance as the young dead man, but looking rather lost in the murder re-enactment. Joanna Simmons seemed a little self-conscious at this performance, a pity as when she relaxed she was very strong and very capable. Freya Parker demonstrated a presence and ability beyond her years, delivering sensitive character work and broad comedy with equal aplomb.

tv baby’s first production is a barely tamed explosion of ideas and creativity, put together by three extremely promising young performers. What it lacks at the moment is discipline and shape: what it possesses is exuberance, ability and enormous potential. Right now, realistically, Dissection is a work in progress and tv baby would be foolish not to develop it. It would not surprise me in the least to see a developed and tightened Dissection pick up a Fringe First in 2006 and it would not surprise me, if they have the sense to stay together and develop their performance skills, to see tv baby go on to a very bright future indeed. See them now, so in five years time you can tell your friends that you saw them first.

Reviewer: Ged Quayle