Stage review: Conquest Of The South Pole, Arcola
Conquest Of The South Pole
IN A NUTSHELL
Four unemployed lads give purpose to their lives by recreating Admundsen's epic trek in their attic.
Trapped in an attic with nothing but joblessness and despair, four likely lads instil hope and purpose into their lives by recreating Admundsen's epic adventure.
They have coats and kit from the Eskimo shop, the recipe for Pemmican, and a copy of the Norwegian's account.
What they haven't got is the approval of Braukmann's fussy wife (Emma Cunniffe) nor an entire uniformity of purpose. (Buscher, for one, sees Shackleton, the failure, as a more fitting role model.)
But Slupianek (O-T Fagbenie), Braukmann (Sam Crane), Buscher (Mark Field) and Seiffert (Andrew Gower) set out to tackle every conjured crevasse and glacier with a purpose born of pointlessness.
Manfred Karge's play is a rip-roaring blast of energy, a 90 minute cacophony of words and imagination, a Brechtian feast of in-yer-face slang and fury.
Like a stressed out Dr Seuss, the boys from the white stuff fling street poetry, puns and rhymes and like a lyrical blitz.
O-T Fagbenie plays the leader of the gang with charisma and presence and he is supported by a crew who imbue their characters with diffident soul and quiet angst.
While the energy of the piece occasionally tips into the overwrought, there is no doubting its power and relevance.
Veteran director Stephen Unwin squeezes every ounce of trickery from the small Arcola space and the final push to the pole is a bizarre masterpiece of marching and mirth.
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