Review: CFTF – 5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist & nerdf*****: a solo play with bad boundaries @ Chapter

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Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – YESYESNONO: 5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist & Little Black Book Productions: nerdf*****: a solo play with bad boundaries
Chapter Arts Centre
Thursday 20th July 2017

*WARNING: Themes of a sexual nature follow*

A joyous return for Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival, who are now in their second year and have already made a mark on the capital. They have taken over loads of Cardiff venues for a week and the two shows on at Chapter were quite something.

Little Black Book Productions of nerdf*****: a solo play with bad boundaries, is a telling piece. It’s depicts a woman, who arrives on stage half naked and trying to get her hairdryer to work. Shocked to see us so early, we become an audience for a different type of show: erotic chess playing. Set at a Sci-Fi convention, this is an after hours show which I was unaware went on. The lady in questions has her back painted with a large tattoo of a chessboard. Put simply, she is played on and is to also be nude throughout.

The tension builds as she gradually realises her employer is not coming, whom she could not do the event without. The anxiety of the situation becomes most unbearable, as we are witness to the breakdown of the character, as she realises she has been taken advantage of. This is a fantastically poised work, at the heart of it is a sensational performance by Cameryn Moore. This was indeed very relatable, through the nerdy knowledge, awkward humour and desire for a more sexy type of lifestyle.

There are some very good themes raised here: the fat shaming which has never seemed to go away, the feeling of finding the right person for you and being a mega fan about some show/game/film series. These are all easily relatable and make for an empathetic mood I haven’t had for a character in a long time.

My friend Tabitha also wrote a poem on the piece:

Accepter*

nerdf*****
nerd accepted
Feed me your lies
Chess moves to boot
And my existence will be real
Lend me your ears
Feast on my dreams
And take my pawn for blood
Finished with your lies
Defy my dreams
Time to begin a new world.

An electric work, perfectly delivered. [SM quote]

From one encounter to a very different kind. For the second show, a gentlemen called Sam was keen to tell us all about his time spent on Craigslist. We went along with the ride in a sort of merry haze as Sam recalled his hook ups with other men. Although declaring himself as bisexual, we also discover that Sam salutes magpies (as is superstition) when ever he sees one. This notes comes back later as he informs other men of this. When Sam stripes nude, we see a magpie tattoo, much to the pleasure of the some the guys whom he met.

Thinking about 5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist after the show, I’ve questioned the point of it. Although not appearing to show off having sex (as many bi/gay men do), the work is an explicit venture into an old form of hook up. It’s odd to me to think of doing this sort of thing within the formality of email (I had tried it myself and found it an oddity). To juxtapose the theme of meaningless sex, Sam has gathered together a questionnaire by Dr. Arthur Aron. This would later become famous on the Internet as a very good way to connect with a partner. Questions like: “How do you see yourself dying?” and “What would you change if you could go back to childhood?” help you grasp their intensity. Trying out the entire quiz after the show, Myself and a Tabi had to put a rain check on it, due to the dark nature the questions venture into.

In the show, the questions are turned on the audience and the brave souls who were asked to help in the show. This is where the piece comes into its own, as strangers find real human moments through the asking of profound questions. The manner of the volunteer would mimic the other party in the meet up, with Sam giving directions including the peeling of a carrot through the mic, shouting into the mic whilst he was talking and going into the lobby to record a response from one of these men to then be played later in the show. When two of the Festival organisers where asked onto the stage, they had a beautiful moment, saying how the other was so awesome, with eyes closed, soupy music paying and a giant fan blowing rose petals all around the space.

The whole show really raises the question: does Sam want a partner? Is he happy with just flings? More personal elements of the show should perhaps be reconsidered, as some encounters proved more forceful and perhaps regrettable than others.

Whilst the piece has wit and some impactful moments, it’s length and content will divide people and hopefully debates about having hookups and their larger impact shall be engaged.

In short, 5 Encounters should be seen in Edinburgh. nerdfucker as well!

5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist Rating: 4 stars
nerdf*****: a solo play with bad boundaries Rating: 5 stars

5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist & nerdf*****: a solo play with bad boundaries continue on tour to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.

Weeping Tudor Productions present Dia:Log:Record – The Hidden Twin Peaks at madeinroath this October. To herald the return of Twin Peaks, come join The Log Lady, Special Agent Dale Cooper & Laura Palmer as they tell all, in their own remarkable words. Come dress as your favourite Twin Peaks character. Prizes for best dressed! Date & location TBC.

Photo Credit: Jess Mallard/Max Bray


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