Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 4 March 2020

Review: Christopher Green: No Show at the Yard

The reluctant critic: Brendan MacDonald writes on Christopher Green’s tricksy performance of a crisis of faith in theatre.

Brendan Macdonald
Christopher Green: No Show at the Yard. Photo: Holly Revell.

Christopher Green: No Show at the Yard. Photo: Holly Revell.

This review is late. But so was Christopher Green, so does that make it ok?

If Green’s a Reluctant Performer, then I’m a reluctant critic.

I don’t want to write this.

I don’t want to write this.

I don’t want to write this.

Why?

Green arrives late, as I said. First, we as an audience have to decide to summon this Reluctant Performer into the theatre to begin his journey, by activating a link on a website, the url of which was written on a scrap of paper left on the stage. Green’s car is just outside the theatre, and he’s in an all-pink ensemble. When he finally arrives, he gets distracted by his phone and its constantly-pinging updates. It already feels familiar.

Wait, why is Shrek 2 trending on Twitter? And what’s a ‘superspreader’?

No Show. No show. Can I make myself a real no-show and never send in this review?

Green’s reluctant performer relies on an audience to remind him of the “transformative power of Theatre and/or Entertainment”. That’s the task at hand, a quest that’s comprised of three ‘battles’. This loose structure is invigorated by a sense of audience unease. This could go anywhere, we think.

But as No Show unfolds, it’s oddly predictable. Like a lazily-structured review:

First, likes: Green’s charisma and charm, his stand-up bit where he spits off performative utterances that underpin every performance ever ( ‘and the thing is’ ‘and the irony is’ ).

Then, concerns: the obvious performer planted in the audience guiding the narrative, and the implications of a show that banishes this ‘woke’ critic of Green from the room (the plant dismisses him as a straight white male taking up space) and then ends in celebration.

Nevertheless/Still, [title of the show] is adjective, adjective, adjective, and [observation about how it’s relevant to today’s climate].

No Show is frustrating because it doesn’t feel like a genuine offer. Our initial unease as an audience stems from figuring out how much or how little agency we actually have in guiding the narrative arc. On this night, it seemed we had very little. Maybe the show does change every night, and it’s just that the press audience was predictably withholding.

Still, maybe that false feeling of agency is what sits at the centre of No Show? Because the journey is laid out to us beforehand – we know exactly how this will end. Three battles, the final one is LOST. Are the plants in the audience supposed to be obvious, too?

Even the title is artfully disingenuous. Of course there’s a show, and of course Green is not so reluctant as he makes out to be. At the centre of No Show is an anxiety about performance, a crisis of faith in what good, if any, can be found in making and sharing theatre. Green’s answer is to examine that crisis through performance.

The alternative, of course, is to stop the performance altogether. And perhaps that is what’s missing in No Show. What if the audience doesn’t want to show Green the transformative power of Theatre and/or Entertainment? What if there isn’t any?

This review is disingenuous too. Of course I’ve finished it and sent it to my editor (still late, mind). It’s now online for you to read.

I said I don’t want to write this. I’m not sure if theatre criticism offers up any transformative power either. And maybe I don’t want to give any. What happens then?

Christopher Green: No Show is on at the Yard till 14th March. More info here

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Brendan Macdonald is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Christopher Green: No Show at the Yard Show Info


Produced by Ellen Spence

Written by Christopher Green

Cast includes Christopher Green, Archie Backhouse, Alison Carney, Adam Hutton

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