Tuesday, June 18

The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much – Pleasance Dome

An intoxicating vortex that for an hour sucks you in, leaving you breathless, captures your senses with its live music and virtuoso acrobatics, and ravishes your mind in an excess of incidents, accents, jokes and twists. Everything is perfect in this little gem of visual storytelling, a rare example of physical theatre where the theatrical action surpasses in suspense, action and acrobatics the speed and pace of a cinematic experience.

A genre parody, the play retains the tone of a 1960s comedy and the suspense typical of Hitchcock, of which it is a satire without ever descending into exaggerated grotesquery. Rather than farce, in fact, the show claims the self-deprecating, light-hearted tones of some 1960s comedy-thrillers, such as Charades, where the grimaces and impressive facial expressions of an always impeccable Cary Grant echo grotesque characters in a plot full of twists and turns.

Capable of moving as swiftly through space and time as in cinema, thanks to the physicality, athleticism and versatility of well-rounded actors, the show proves to be a rare example of visual storytelling in which theatre and cinema meet and go hand in hand. A play of pure escapism and entertainment, but no less intense and intellectually satisfying. The spy story underlying the action is, in fact, the result of skilful research and meditation, not only on the historical period narrated, that of the 1960s and the Kennedy assassination, but also on a genre that one would think had nothing more to say, nothing more to add to contemporary society, and yet is rediscovered with imagination and creativity by these young artists of the word. Thanks to this new storytelling language, the spectator finds himself laughing out loud, jumping at every twist and turn, and completely escaping from a reality that is perhaps tired of always dwelling on itself.

But what is really striking is the talent of the very young actors of the Voloz Collective, responsible both for directing and writing the script, who are able to change abruptly from one role to another, from one accent to another, from one grimace to another, to engage in exaggerated physical movements and to recreate, with the help of only very few props and live music, the tense atmosphere of the 1960s.

Thanks to their physicality and comic talent alone, these four actors are able to recreate entire cities, wastelands and sun-drenched lands, in a veritable manhunt where shoot-outs, brawls, wild escapes, misunderstandings and deceptions follow one another until the tragic final showdown. An excellent and immersive play, a dance for the eyes where sounds, voices and physicality mingle together for the pure pleasure of the spectator, a rare example of imagination and creativity that would have pleased Hitchcock himself.

Playing until 29th August, further details and tickets can be found HERE.

Reviewer: Anna Chiari

Reviewed: 13th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★