Fledging Theatre Company debuted Callum Cameron’s They Built It. No One Came at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, and they are now taking it out to wider audiences. It is currently enjoying a strictly limited run in the STUDIO at Greenwich Theatre, and will be out on the road during May & June.
Tobias & Alexander never really enjoyed regular society, so eight years ago founded their own commune (Humbleton) – they use 18th century German agricultural methods to farm, and live a less complicated life. They have only one problem: nobody else has since made Humbleton their home. Until Tim, that is. Hastily re-christened as Pablo, he is seeking refuge from university life, and seems to find it with Tobias & Alexander. Now the only remaining problem is that of their neighbours; they’ve never accepted the commune’s existence, often vandalising the property. The three prepare to take their own brand of revenge, but it goes nowhere near according to plan.
Reminiscent of Waiting for Godot in its overall arc for the two central characters, this is a quirky, folksy play with a difference. An additional character, Bennie, is there but not really there – sitting on the sidelines he provides the occasional witty song to describe events, or back up the action with music from his acoustic guitar. The play is packed full of ridiculous jokes and all seems pretty joyful & harmless – this makes one moment in particular all the more shocking.
The stage setup is fairly straightforward, with plants, stools, crates & gardening implements representing the commune. Director Lucy Wray ensures creative use is made of the performance space, including a ramp off to the side of the audience. Also imaginative is the way in which they portray the deaths of the captive doves, Rose & Forget-Me-Not.
Callum Cameron is hilariously earnest as Pablo; his backstory is quite ludicrous in parts, but he remains sombre & straight-faced throughout. And Pablo’s unique flailing running technique really does have to be seen to be believed! Edoardo Elia plays Bennie and is great comic value, as well as treating us musically.
Christopher Neels & Patrick Holt make Tobias & Alexander into a brilliantly funny pairing. Their comic timing is absolutely spot on, also delivering some heavy doses of silliness quite seriously. Alexander has a penchant for Walt Whitman quotes – often seeming to be dishing out his own wisdom, until Holt appends the line with “… Walt Whitman”. Tobias occasionally deviates from the norm in his pronunciation of some words, resulting in Neels’ great line (advice from Tobias to Pablo), “Find your niche and scratch it.”
My verdict? A fantastically funny play with unexpected hints of darkness – they built it, and now you should go!
They Built It. No One Came. runs at Greenwich STUDIO until 4 February 2017. Tickets are available online or from the box office.