The Daily Tribunal

Within five minutes of entering the space, The Daily Tribunal cast have sat me down in the front row and appropriated my pen for the purpose of the show – an examination of the media (how it works generally and specifically how it corrupts). This is told from the perspective of the show’s two homeless characters who begin writing articles of their own.

The show is both a parable and a lecture, an analogy and a pantomime, and so it ends up meaning very little.

Consequently, I was unable to make any notes. Fortunately, this production is hard to forget. The Rooster Theatre Company show admirable dedication to one of their stated goals: to make "no place safe from theatre." They clamber over chairs to get to audience members in order to question or address them specifically; they had no qualms returning to me multiple times to keep me involved in their story.

This audience involvement also had a purpose beyond the company’s goals - it is crucial in making The Daily Tribunal's points about media tactics. The questions directed at the audience are inflammatory, uncomfortable and designed to provoke certain answers and feelings. Their link to fear mongering tabloid press headlines ought not to be lost on anyone. The performers happily ask the same question repeatedly until a certain response is given and thereafter scream and shout about that answer. When they questioned me, they seemed to enjoy my uncomfortable, awkward squirming as I gave the 'wrong' answer.

While all this is entertaining and engaging, the same could not be said for scripted dialogues. As there simply isn't enough of a narrative to sustain lengthy scenes between the characters, much of the dialogue wandered listlessly along, despite the obvious talents of the two performers. Clearly, a deliberate decision was taken to move the play away from the more classic, straight theatre style, but this really results in frustration when the story that we start to invest in is abandoned and then picked up again, seemingly at random.

It's possible to see that some sort of message about the press is being sent, but the clarity of this is lost in the strange mix of styles. The show is both a parable and a lecture, an analogy and a pantomime, and so it ends up meaning very little. Unfortunately it isn't performatively brilliant enough to get away with that.

The seed of something brilliant is here. The basic concept makes for a fascinating beginning, but the decision to challenge theatre conventions hinders the show rather than helped it. I'd also like my pen back.  

Reviews by Andrew Forbes

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The Blurb

Extra, extra! Today’s headline: two homeless men write daily article for local paper! Excited yet? How about some buzzwords? Deception! Depravity! Devised!! Get your fill of our exclusive coverage, and don’t worry about that pesky small print!

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