Made up of snippets of overheard conversations, Angel Theatre Company’s Another Eavesdropping is amusingly pleasant with potential to be more at the Jack Studio Theatre
“Sorry if I gabbled on”
I don’t believe in labelling any of my pleasures guilty but if I did, the joy in earwigging on the juicy conversations of others would rank right up there. Clearly I’m not alone in this as Angel Theatre Company have created a piece of theatre out of just that. Conceptualised and directed by John Patterson, Another Eavesdropping is a verbatim play made up of such overheard conversations from the general public, collected by cast members, collated and workshopped by the company and then delivered in a diverting stream of consciousness by the ensemble.
Largely two-handers, the vignettes range from seconds-long snippets to fully-fleshed scenes, covering a wide range of subjects, circumstances and indeed humanity. Though there’s no direct connection leading from one to the next to the next, one of the performers usually sticks around to be in the subsequent interaction, suggesting something of a La Ronde-esque connectivity on a macro level. There’s a tendency towards the comic which feels like an apposite choice for the most part, though moments of subtle grace and pathos end up registering more.
So from chatty Cathys in the checkout queue to arrogant financiers teeing off, disgruntled wedding invitees to painters discussing odd ways with animals, the variety is total and the impact thus scattergun. Some scenes dissolve into nothing, some veer a little too close to mockery of its subjects, some enscapsulate societal malaise beautiful (the loneliness of the prescription guy is heartbreaking) but for me, the best are those which take us a little by surprise. Not remembering who Rufus is made me chuckle and the unexpectedly resonant chat about cheese works perfectly in its quiet surety (I think I could watch a whole play based on that conversation!).
It is in this cumulative effect of digging into the emotion in these exchanges that the show gains its power, pointing almost towards a Caryl Churchillian way of probing into ideas about the way we communicate with each other and indeed what we think we get away when we think no one else is listening. If more of the vignettes were developed in a similar manner, Another Eavesdropping has the potential to be something quite profound. At the moment it is just a little too haphazard to be more than amusingly pleasant.