Andy Barr @ Black Medicine
A treat at times, testing at others, Neustadt is never dull
Tasked with designing a utopian socialist city, only to be dragged into a cold war conflict with both British and Russian Intelligence agencies recruiting him for their own nefarious purposes, Andy Barr has a lot on his plate this year in Neustadt.
Despite its high concept, the toughest obstacle for him to overcome is his audience who, all to often, he must battle for control of the show.
Barr and his architect persona is armed with a desk, sound cues, large flip-board and a more than keen audience, from which they must construct the ultimate city and spy thriller comedy. This proves a tricky task. When the show is in full swing, Barr is an off-key delight, whose anarchic approach to unconventional narrative promises to be something altogether different. However, large parts of the show also see Barr openly invite the audience to be a part of his game, only for them to derail his attempts at building both a pleasing narrative and city. His frustration is understandable but seems a little too genuine, and slightly misplaced, as control of the show becomes a perpetual tug of war that he ultimately loses (on this occasion).
Still, this is an innovative show and innovative performer who is not afraid to take risks. Risks that lead to some very rewarding moments. To what extent Barr wants things to unfold like this is unclear. And, if nothing else, come for the delightful lounge-music number mid-show.
Andy Barr: Neustadt, Black Medicine (Basement), 3-26 Aug (not 14), 7pm, £5/PWYW
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