★★★ An Execution (by invitation only) – Review
An Execution (by invitation only) | Camden People’s Theatre | 11-29 September | 7.15pm | £15/10
An Execution (by invitation only) is a somewhat perplexing experience.
The premise is that we the audience are present inside the cell of a prisoner condemned to die. We don’t know his crime, and whilst we learn of his fate, there are certainly questions raised about this too. What happens inside the cell as he, and we, wait for his execution, is a series of unexpected happenings, most of which feel very surreal.
The imagery and action are engaging enough. We are kept guessing at every stage as to what is coming next, as the execution date presumably looms and we are no closer to knowing anything about this character. And the character brings little other than banality, although there is a kind of intrigue drummed up by this seeming lack of drive or personality. The action around him however is the opposite. The strange touches of the unexplained are what keep the audience smiling.
There are of course some more overarching themes and reflections to be made about the portrayed situation and what it might represent, as well as comparison no doubt to be made with the Nabakov novel which inspired the show. What percentage of the audience are looking to these themes though is unsure. And how much that matters, we are unsure.
How much of the confusion and awkwardness that’s felt is by design? And how much of that design is successful? We might need a few days to try and figure that out…
Overall the show feels lacking in some way. Perhaps there is too much going on. Perhaps not enough. Perhaps, oddly both. There are certainly some great moments however, and there is certainly food for thought.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.