Forced Entertainment

Oct 10

Forced Entertainment – The Thrill of it All

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So the point is I can’t really objectively review a performance by a company who I’ve seen nearly twenty times when, in a way, they’re almost all a continuation of the same performance, it’s just sometimes they’re all sat down talking quietly and sometimes they’re all running about and shouting. I was talking to Tim Etchells, their director/writer/dramaturg/top lad afterwards and he said it’s like a very slow soap opera, and he’s right, the relationships between the performers evolve like those in a soap. It was fascinating watching Jerry being in charge and pushing the newbies about when it doesn’t seem so long since he was the debutante being abused. But still, Richard is the first to break from the initial structure, Cathy and Claire hold everything together and Terri is the chaos provider in the slightly shorter skirt, “what if heroin wasn’t addictive?”


Dec 08

The Broken World – Tim Etchells

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When I found out my favourite theatre director in the world had written his first novel I was intrigued, but also somewhat trepidacious. Tim’s theatre writing (which I talked about a bit here) is so strongly of and about theatre itself, would he trip up in an entirely different mode of writing? Would what he produces that makes forced ents such a theatrical force work on the page?

So I was in borders with a gift voucher, unsure of what to spend it on, when I remembered and picked it up, not quite out of duty, but frankly without any great expectation (not unlike when i got the new girls aloud alBUM).

It is ASTONISHING. I can’t remember the last time a book, a BOOK, has hit me like this, it might have been shampoo planet (yes, i read it before generation x, because waterstones in cheltenham didn’t have gen x) or My Idea of Fun, fifteen years ago. You might think “ah fanboy, bound to like it” but it’s so far away from his theatrical writing, and yet contains hints of all his beautiful little linguistic ticks that made me cheer inside when I spotted one.

Anyway, it may be the best novel yet written about blogging, the argot is so spot-on, the way the unnamed narrator, like all bloggers, moves away from the Proper Subject At Hand (a walkthrough of mindbogglingly complex computer game) to talk about himself, his friends (who are all referred to by their internet names throughout), his crappy job making Cooked Circular Food (a beautiful neologism that i intend to use at Every Appropriate Point) and everything else in his real life. There’s clearly a deep love for the subject matter, alienation and distance has always a key driver in forced ents work, but an embrace of distance, that it’s a good thing, and this links so strongly with how people immerse themselves in MMORPGs that it was kind of inevitable that Tim would see the potential in them.

Really, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and am worried that i’m doing a shocking job of describing how great this book is, but I HAD to tell you about it.