Review | Museum Pieces, Tristan Bates Theatre ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Museum Pieces is a superb new play which looks at how reality TV interacts with actual reality once the show has aired. 

At the Tristan Bates Theatre, four individuals sit on chairs spread out across the space with a distinct pool of coloured light shining on each of them. In turn, they take centre stage and introduce their story through separate monologues. What ties them together unbeknownst to them, is their connection to the series Naked Attraction. This is the eyebrow raising reality tv show, where people pick a partner to go on a date with based on physical appearances alone (including full sight of each other’s private bits).

Writer and director, Jamie Christian, showcases exceptional writing here. He’s produced a hilarious play with a dark and troubling undercurrent. The engaging piece has juicy characters and Christian creatively weaves each one into a salient narrative. It’s truly satisfying to see it all unfold.

The exquisite writing is matched by knockout performances delivered by a small cast of four. The crop of colourful characters make up the London landscape of today. There’s Charlie (Rob Eades), the hunky millennial who on his 27th Birthday decides it’s time to ‘go beige’ and Patti (Laura Shipler Chico), the God-loving American living in Peckham. We also meet Mark (Steve North) a CEO, who’s up to no good in the office during the holiday season, and last but by no means least, Saul (Edwin Nwachukwu Jr.), a gay black man with a love for opera. In a surprisingly short space of time, we get to know these characters intimately and are drawn into their world. Patti is the only contestant of Naked Attraction, while the series features in the lives of the other characters in other interesting ways. But revealing much more here would spoil the fun.

There’s something quite ironic about reality TV. Yes, it’s centred around real people. We meet this Trainee teacher from Dorset or this single mum of two from Blackpool. However, it’s only ever a fleeting glimpse of a person for our viewing pleasure. It’s rare that we stop to think that these people have lives outside of the screens which we devour them on. With the awful news of what happened to one Jeremy Kyle participant after appearing on the show still hanging over the nation’s conscience, Museum Pieces is timely, provocative, and provides interesting food for thought.

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