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This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-development-theatre-delicatessen-london/

“Part gig, part theatre, part awesome night out” is what is promised by the Soundboxed Collective which created this strange mix of a performance. An oversight by the box office meant we were left in the reception area of the former Guardian group building, now the new home of Theatre Delicatessen, after a number of audience members were moved into the performance space. Not the best start. Though it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the leather sofas are the most comfortable part of the evening. The group is then gathered in the corridor where we had to swear not to divulge the goings on inside The Development, a mix between an exclusive members’ club and a cult. Just as well since what takes place next can hardly be explained with  words because of its incoherence.

The percussionist Jamie Misselbrook performs most of the down tempo electronic music with an ethnic influence. The vocal is provided by Jeremiah who possesses a reasonable voice for the music. It is not so enveloping that it becomes a gig and the awareness of it being part of a theatrical performance means it feels underwhelming as either. The absurd and silly attempt at comedy is jarring and shifts even further away from the music. Then come the elements of  group therapy and other purgatory group participatory exercises which can only be linked to an attempt to force the audience to loosen up for a weekend evening of dancing. It feels naive and underdeveloped.

At least all the performers have the conviction to absolutely believe in the purpose of their work, even if it may not be obvious to the observers. It seems carrying a particular mindset might be helpful such as having a silly giggle with friends on a Friday night with the aim of dancing the night away. But then, as the blurb of the show points out, the legendary ‘Fabric’ nightclub is just round the corner. It is very difficult to see the purpose of this part gig, part theatre, part awesome night out, which turns out to be none of those things.

Photo Hanna Anketell

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