REVIEW: Non Flower Elements (The Basement)

Review by Tim George

[‘There used to be a graying tower alone on the sea…’]

A meditation on the concept of interconnectedness?
Or an unintentional send-up of artistic ego?
Created by Arlo Gibson and Ash Jones, Non Flower Elements is a wonderful mess, a mix of audience participation, musical, monologue and jacked naked men. The show feels like a brainstorm, a bunch of ideas and set pieces vaguely connected to the theme of interconnectedness (or whatever the hell the show is meant to be about).
Good thing it’s funny.
I shall now attempt a plot synopsis. Oh boy.
Arlo Gibson and Ash Jones play a pair of self-important casting directors who have dragged a large group auditionees (the audience) into a late audition to recast a show whose previous leads (Arlo Gibson and Ash Jones) have quit/died/been fired. As they take the audience through their paces, with exercises and line reading exercises, they take time out to castigate a pair of late-comers (Arlo Gibson and Ash Jones). There are also musical numbers and people talking over each other.
I have ignored so much stuff to make the above word salad. The show is at its most coherent when it circles back to being an audition, as our ‘heroes’ attack their theme with various skits that play off the performer – audience dynamic. Or at least that’s what I took away.
The singing portions are more impenetrable (which is saying something). Partially this is because they never feel connected to the audition ‘plot’, and partially because the acoustics of the Basement Studio are not forgiving to musical performers. When the band plays it’s fine, but when the boyz start singing I could not tell what was going on.
But then they start taking off their clothes and expose their extremely cut midriffs. My god these dudes are jacked. I haven’t seen pecs like that since-
If you’re in the mood for some group activities, talking over each other, intense dissection of a Big Theme, and hairy man bods, this show is for you.
Non Flower Elements plays until 26 August. Details see The Basement


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