Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is once again brought to life fifteen years after its debut by writer Jo Randerson. The show promises to be a raucous event pioneered by a tartan wearing, foul mouthed punk figure who navigates her ancestry and personal philosophy throughout the show. Taking inspiration from her Danish heritage, Randerson weaves into the fabric of her play a sense of discontent and rebellion. The character is a self-proclaimed freak show that attempts to challenge her audience by questioning the way in which we live our lives.
The show defies theatrical conventions through its lack of obvious narrative and story arc. Randerson’s explicit opening statement, “I like you to think of this not so much as a piece of theatre”, immediately undercuts the traditional structure of the event, and she consistently destructs the fourth wall from start to finish. The theatre space acts as a metaphor for captivity and restriction, further cemented by the interactions of two actors preventing Randerson from leaving the space and curtailing her smoking habit.
Watching Randerson proves there is no doubt that she is a strong performer and her Barbarian character is interesting to observe. She echoes an energy similar to that of a female Sid Vicious, but with more heart, mixed with the frustrations of every minority and community thrown to the wayside. This is a prime example of another strong female character, written by a woman for women, that laughs in the face of every weak willed, passive character offered up for actors in the past.
The show is built up to pack a punch but overall the piece felt tired, as did Randerson’s portrayal. Her resistance felt forced rather than frustrated and lacked the momentum to cause any substantial reaction to the piece. Instead of being challenged, the general reaction post-show was that of entertained confusion.
Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong plays at The Basement until 24 September. Details see The Basement.