Barrel Organ proved the big hit of last year’s Fringe. Their debut, Nothing, written by Lulu Raczka off the back of a devising process, heralded a distinctive and fully-fledged voice: dripping with disappointment and disgust for our solipsistic society.
The same tone is present in the company’s follow-up, Some People Talk About Violence, and it’s every bit as engaging a watch, even if the play doesn’t quite cohere.
It centres on a girl, most likely depressive, sat watching repeats of repeats of The Big Bang Theory on E4, ignoring friends that are drinking nearby. Her mother has no patience with it; her brother gets it, but lords that over their mum. When the girl’s arrested—for breaking and entering, hiding out in some family’s bathroom—he flies back from Thailand, leaving his boyfriend in the process.
We get shards of narrative, all told from different perspectives, but they’re intercut with live improv games given a bitter twist: Slapsies; cracker-scoffing; outright humiliation. Imagine Whose Line Is It Anyway made rancorous and dark.
The title holds it all together, collating everything under the label of violence—though any actual harm is conspicuous by its absent—and the form is jagged and abrasive. However, it never really adds up to anything more than a puzzling, vague aversion. Perhaps we’re meant to side with the girl, and share in her shrug at this somewhat sickening world, but Barrel Organ never quite get us there. Who knows? But equally, with a company this promising, who cares?