I was promised intense, vivid absurdity, satire and tenderness and explosive hilarity… in fact, I was promised ‘It All.’
I will happily admit, I have a soft spot for mimes. I can probably trace it to my love of Chaplin and Marcel Duchamp’s “Anémic Cinéma.”
The lights go up on a dejected and solemn musician (played perfectly by Patrick Bell) inanimately waiting for it all to begin. A cacophony of noise could be made with the instruments which cages the silent character, but, they only exist to create a prison that mutes the artists creativity and self expression, the silence is deafening.
The whole theatre is poised to be made part of whatever It is whilst a ripple of nervousness flows through the audience.
Enter Cook, gracefully gliding into the light wearing a white vest, black trousers, braces and a layer of perfectly draw black lipstick to brake the silence with a finely penned poem delving into life’s bigger mysteries. ‘It All’, it seemed, was to begin as a dreamlike journey tackling life, death, love and capitalism.
It’s a rare and also mildly disconcerting experience watching Cook’s ability to adapt to the events and interruptions that punctuated the scenes. Without missing a beat the creator of ‘It All’ connects with new characters, scenarios and blink-and-you-miss-it moments that possess his body and cause absurd and hilarious physical and vocal changes. A father and son talk about the meaning of life. An old Southern American man warns there’s a “storm a-comin’”. A slick businessman descends into Gollum-like madness. By the end, it’s only the performer who remains, demanding a curtain call and pontificating on what ‘It All’
Cook is a confident, complex and eccentric performer. He managed to transform and adopt the new characters and situations with absolute ease, and his physical contortions are astounding. Watching him perform I identified with him to a point, navigating and tentatively absorbing the attributes of the different social and underground issues that are woven in to ‘It All’s’ complex story.
At times during and after the performance, I caught the thoughts and reviews of others who had been drawn in to Cook’s unconventional view of the world. Some were, unsurprisingly, a little confused and unsettled by the overwhelmingly avant-garde performance, others in deep discussion over the underlying themes and the provocative nature of Cameron Cook’s focus. None, however, seemed to be remotely bothered by the somewhat ambiguous conclusion and lack of clarity when it came to the meaning of ‘It All’, to most, it seemed irrelevant and the journey became the star of the show.
Personally, I was enthralled by what might, to some, have been a little chaotic and tangential style to the show’s direction but, the chaos allowed an entirely interpretive and personal relationship to begin between artist and audience.
Both performer and musician were smart and humorous, and Cook’s capitalist Gollum made for a delightful addition. The music underpinning the whole experience was well orchestrated and I have nothing but praise for some excellent triangle chiming.
As a debut show, there were, of course, some teething issues and hurdles to overcome, but, I was both intrigued and entertained whilst having enough curiosity to have me contemplating the concept of ‘It All’ for the rest of the evening.
For Cameron Cook, his debut on the London stage was a thought provoking and wonderfully complex triumph.