Written for What’s On Stage
“You will get whatever I want you to get. And do whatever I want you to do.” So rests the premise of Spare showing at promising new venue the New Diorama Theatre. It is a nasty sentiment, but then what can one expect from a show that focuses squarely on the in’s and out’s (sometimes literally) of human abuse.
Mirroring the anagram of its title (from ‘rapes’ apparently) the casting of the performers is switched around at random resulting in an entirely different configuration each night. Written in a gender neutral style this is a democratic pick and mix that is meant to represent ‘How to screw up a society in 40,320 ways’.
There is undoubtedly an interesting otherworldliness to Spare created by this sexless jumble sale but it is an awkward one. Sitting somewhere between bad Beckett and the cartoon silliness of Dario Fo, the continuous interchange means the actors are forced into caricature performances. They are not aided by a script full of pretentious, purple sentences. Whilst there are glimpses of potency in Sebastian Rex’s rhetorical text, the level of repetition here is astounding meaning the powerful quickly becomes banal.
Mildly annoying throughout, Spare moves into the downright insulting at it’s end as three sexually abused children debate the merits of their abuser, “It felt good” one concludes. This absurd statement leaves a sickening taste at the end of a night that has engendered more puzzled boredom than it has prompted shocked discourse or thought.