The curtain rises on a stage full of smoke, but the packed house has paid good money, and the show must go on. The cast can’t see each other, but they’re drilled to perfection, striding to their spots and gesturing like figures from medieval manuscripts. This is neither time nor place for nuance, with only outlines appearing through the billowing clouds. It’s at this juncture that I wish I’d bought a programme – or at least checked the tickets on my phone which I bought eight months ago, long before The Unprecedented Event – as I don’t recall what I’m seeing, and the fact that the only dialogue is wordless hacking isn’t helping. Still, the actors are game, and when someone who could be Lady Macbeth or Widow Twankey leans from the lip of the stage, red eyes streaming and raw throat wheezing like a storm in a windmill, we’re all on our feet, half in floods of tears and half roaring with laughter. And then she’s back into the fray, limbs sweeping like elegant sails as she disappears into the fug, sinking into the incense of lovingly flung roses.




Oz Hardwick
Picture Nick Victor



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