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Gob Shop
Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
1

1 stars

Sapphire Rooms
Theatre
8-12, 15-19, 22-26 Aug, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Reviewed by Lynsey Martenstyn

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Gob Shop is a site-specific piece set in working strip club, Sapphire Rooms, and featuring one of the club’s strippers, Liina. The premise of the show claims to let audiences ‘explore the real and the imaginary world of the club’. Yet the only world shown to audiences was distractingly under-rehearsed and confused. The show begins with an address from one of the directors, ‘This is not Shakespeare, this is not theatre as you know it’ – and even this open disclaimer could not excuse what occurred.

The audience is restricted to ten, enabling the cast to shepherd the audience around different sections of the venue. The three-strong cast interweave as they move around, dipping in and out of character, providing insights into the club through mediums of drama, dance, discussion… and drinking game. But these insights were often formulated around exaggerated stereotypes and clichéd characters, meaning the audience do not leave Gob Shop with any new perceptions of strip clubs, strippers or their customers.

Some of the mini-performances which made up this patchwork production were not rehearsed enough: the performers looked bemused, stumbled through improvisation, and were often cut short or hurried along by a director, rather than coming to a planned end. After one segment, a performer concludes her vague thoughts on strip clubs by handing out business cards for her dance school, which seemed entirely inappropriate and unrelated.

The show hopped from movement pieces, to improvised monologues, to the actors breaking character and talking with the audience, with no continuity, pace or structure. Using a drinking game to display stereotypes of strip club customers is definitely a creative move. But the characters portrayed though this method were nonsensical (for example, a Tibetan millionaire), so it is difficult to justify why it featured. It seemed as if the performers were having significantly more fun than the perplexed audience.

Perhaps understandably, Liina provided the most insight, telling the audience of events that had happened to her and giving her honest opinion of life in the club.  It would have been interesting for the audience to ask her questions, or for a more realistic performance to be devised based upon one of her experiences. Instead, a myriad of hyperbolic performances encased her brief talk.

The Sapphire Rooms are a fantastic venue and the production really does use the entire space; the audience rarely stays in the same spot for more than five minutes, though this constant movement does did not always feel necessary. Towards the end, audience members were openly looking at their watches and sighing. With organisation, a clear idea and much more time spent rehearsing, this piece will be ready for public viewing.

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