Skip to main content

The Hundred We Are- The Yard Theatre

Hobo Theatre's aim is to produce work in unconventional spaces 'telling stories with an international perspective about wanderers, adventurers and people lost on the margins' and its newest production of Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri's The Hundred We Are, receiving its UK premiere at the Yard Theatre, a fitting backdrop for the play's illusionary precariousness, does not disappoint.
The Hundred We Are at The Yard Theatre.  Karen Archer as 3, Ida Bonnast as 1 and Katherine Manners as 2. Photograph by Mark Douet.
Karen Archer as 3, Ida Bonnast as 1 & Katherine Manners as 2 photohraph Mark Douet
Receiving a worldwide premiere in Gothenburg in 2009, the play follows the lives of three seemingly individual women - or as named in the program, 1, 2 & 3. 1, a feisty young what we may recognise as a shadow of a Laurie Penny type (Ida Bonnast)is a mad 'intellectual' revolutionary, 2 (Katherine Manners)a comfort stability seeking would be mumsie and 3 (Karen Archer)a woman on the brink of old age and whose pertinent line 'forget how to sit, that's all we have to do' underlines the seriousness of the work, despite its initial surface shine which has role play and dressing up as its main dramatic thrust.
Soon it becomes clear that all is not clear and we start to understand that 1, 2 & 3 could actually be all the same person- a fractured 'we' whose schizophrenia, possible visions and fantasies are brought into birth by the madness caused when our personal worlds collide with the more and increasingly violent global spheres. Watch out for the hilarious Preventative Dentistry convention which brilliantly explores this collision. But there are some more serious themes to consider too. Jonas Hassen Khemiri's tendency towards a little hyper line (reminding me of Arne Lygre's Then Silence I saw at UAL some months ago)pushes the role play whilst simultaneously exposing the myths and hyperbolic stories the 3 characters invent about themselves- and in this production 'them' also means 'us' and 'we'- Jamie Harper's nice use of meta theatre, where 1 comes into the audience to direct a fantasy or a memory that 2 is experiencing, does not let us forget this.
Florence McHugh's clever stage design, looking like a cross between a bad Ikea kit and a set from a children's TV show, reiterates the sense of fantasy, although throughout I found myself thinking of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, perhaps not far from something, as that film was an inspiring influence on a recent Hobo production, Heaven in Berlin. But what's really interesting is the use of video imagery. Are the women, are we, merely 72 dpi on a huge computer screen somewhere? Has the computer screen replaced God? But the video imagery also makes real 1's preoccupations with wars, where 'dimples become grenade craters' - so real in fact, it's almost like a 4th character. In some ways the global issues or, to be more precise, the images of them, are more real than the characters themselves- our obsession with needing to know and experience every death (the reality of which only cinema could once provide)has driven away any internal cohesion and is instead responsible for the 'golden framed memories' to which 1, 2 & 3 cling but which are also sacrificed on the women's winding stairwell to heaven as it continues its reach towards a painful truth.

By turns comical, urgent and full of pain, The Hundred We Are continues at The Yard Theatre until 8 November, to book, click here

for more information on Hobo Theatre, go here

for more information on Jonas Hassen Khemiri, click here
 Director – Jamie Harper
Writer – Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translator – Frank Perry
Designer – Florence McHugh
Lighting Designer – Joshua Pharo
3 Karen Archer
2 Katherine Manners
1 Ida Bonnast


Popular posts from this blog

Collabo- Hip hop with a difference

There’s a buzz in the air at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. No wonder, this is the 10th anniversary of Collabo, Tony Adigun’s annual dance celebration founded in 2006 to promote new collaborations and hip-hop hybrids from dance groups. Friday’s program of short portfolios opens with 10 (UnTitled Dance Company) choreographed by Lukas McFarlane lasting fifteen minutes (no mean feat in the hip-hop world) and featuring 10 tracks and illustrating some super synchronised steps and gyros executed with military precision. The occasional, surprising rigidness of the choreography is broken by experimentation with spoken word. Liberation (What Is Written Dance Company) has the same exactness, but their more simple choreography is easier on the eye after the mass sprawl of 10. Kweku Aacht and Guest Dancers produce an interpretation of a track performed live onstage- the sometimes rowdy crowd shouting out and encouraging the performers on hold their breath as the troupe fluctuate between free style a…

Once in a Lifetime- theatre review: slightly revised to reflect the ambiguous ending

Once in a Lifetime is a show about the tenuous and complicated relationship between creativity and destruction. Re-adapted here by Chris Hart, son of one half of the original writing duo Moss Hart and George S Kaufman, the show may well be set in 1930s Hollywood just as the talkies are about to change cinema forever, but it might also be poking fun at an art form that is a little closer to home. Director Richard Jones always takes risks with little produced, marginalised or very well known works in a bid to uncover something new that might be a comment on our own times. Here, a story about hapless Vaudeville trio act George (John Marquez), Jerry (Kevin Bishop) and May (Claudie Blakley), who set out to conquer Hollywood with their mythic elocution school, is the perfect fit for the director to explore themes that seem to obsess him: national myth, parody, the tyranny of power, willed self-destruction, bureaucracy, global fantasy, etc. So far, the show has not gone down so well with the c…

Walking the Tightrope- Theatre Delicatessen

Site-specific set? Perhaps. In the old Guardian offices in Farringdon, Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut curate a cycle of 12 short plays exploring the tension[s] between art and politics, reactions to the budget cuts to the arts in the UK and debate freedom of expression controversies. Corruption, class divides, perception, blood money, gesture politics and culpability, it’s all there and recent topical events are given stage time, from The Tricycle’s controversial decision to withdraw their support for the UK Jewish Film Festival to the Barbican’s cancelled Exhibit B. The plays are entertaining- Sun City by April De Angelis, Re: Exhibit by Gbolahan Obisesan, Old Newland by Julie Pascal, Tickets are on Sale Now by Caryl Churchill and Exhibit A, by Neil LaBute, all deserve special mention for looking beyond the parameters of funding and freedom of expression in the UK arts- by which of course, I mean a theatrical London still surfing the very last trickling waves of Colonialism and it…