Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The Table

Karbido
Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn
(2007)

Production photo

This unique show must surely be the result of some drunken student bet that the boys knew they would regret in the morning. "Yeah, of course we can play a table" when delivered with the appropriate amount of bravado must have sounded convincing. Unbelievably, they are now doing so professionally.

This Polish company had a hit at Aurora Nova in Edinburgh with The Table and now it has made the trip south for a short sojourn in Kilburn. There is no doubt that you will not have seen anything like this before. Even better, if you are lucky you will get a chance to observe the fun from seating on The Tricycle's stage and it does look impressive in close-up.

Four men in their 30s sit around a square table at which one might expect to play a few rubbers of bridge were it covered with baize. For an hour, they turn this Rolls-Royce of wooden tables into a multifaceted musical instrument with which to play everything from heavy metal to ethereal percussion.

The company's musical strength is probably best enjoyed when they play music with an Eastern, spiritual influence -- somewhere between Bollywood movie and Hare Krishna. It is however the diversity of musical styles that is the greatest pleasure, especially when combined with the novelty of the production.

The magic table has been carefully constructed to become a sound system. There must be microphones everywhere and the four players use a variety of implements to make music. Their hands provide beautifully syncopated percussion but in addition three sides of the table have guitar-like strings that are plucked and bowed, as well as tapped to create different effects. Beyond that, the handle on a drawer; sharp blades; sticks in holes; the human voice; and at one point, it looked like one of the performers heads, are all used to good effect.

The result is like nothing you have ever seen or heard before, which makes this the kind of novelty experience that one really ought to try at least once.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher