from London


This year, the first show I saw at the Fringe was the best one. A somewhat annoying phenomenon, but The TEAM's Mission Drift was so damn good that I really didn't mind, I was just grateful to have had the opportunity to see *anything* that made me feel that excited about making theatre again. I'm still reeling almost a month on.

The TEAM, which stands for Theatre of the Emerging American Movement, make bold devised theatre exploring very twenty-first century topics, more specifically twenty-first century American topics. The New York Times put it quite well, “How stimulating to wake up in 2009 in the hands of a present-tense theater company who knows what it’s doing".

Mission Drift is a rich, complex, messy and beautiful piece of theatre. It is two hours long and not shy about it. It has something to say, and wont stop until it says it. The company's aim with this work was to 'explore the nature of American capitalism' and their process involved a residency in Las Vegas, where the show is set, and research into economic theories. And westerns.

I honestly can't think of a company making devised theatre anything like this in the UK. Devised theatre here tends to* fall into two camps, from what I can work out: 1) difficult for your general audience member, performance art leaning, possibly durational? In response to the question, “what was that about” you’d probably get the answer, “well, what did you think it was about?” or 2) highly visual, simple and lovely storytelling, probably using shadow puppetry, 45 minute long piece of studio theatre. Matching costumes. I am often guilty of this second camp.

I am inspired by the TEAM’s bravery. In having a message, a story; in being able to call their work a ‘play’. And in their work still succeeding in being very grown up, very responsive and clever. And it is difficult, and messy. But it’s not vague.

These are an incredibly smart bunch of people, evidently. They do their homework, they work hard, and they analyse, analyse, adapt, play. Their work makes me want to swear: there is something “fuck” about them. “Boom! Shit---- Pow!” something American and over the top too busy.

I’d like to work with them, but I’m not American, and I think you probably have to be.

 

*DISCLAIMER: tends to. Not all of it does. Please don’t be offended. Cheers.