Last night I nipped on my bicycle and braved the autumn evening (now it would seem, testing its bite again after a long, lazy, slack-jawed summer) to go see Project E: An Explosion at the Battersea Arts Centre.
The show is the latest in a series of alphabeticalised spectaculars by the Work Theatre collective and for this particular piece they had an obscenely tasty £30-something grand from the Samuel Beckett memorial trust (nice to see the great man's name used by someone other than the estate that is so intent on condemning him to the status of a museum curio in the 'faithfullness' they impose on any new production - a batshit crazy notion - how much would still remain unknown about Shakespeare or Johnson if they had only ever been performed unedited, by an all male-company on a thrust stage?)
The show took the explosion as metaphor, image, and cultural artifact in our time - plucking from the either men (and it was just men) from Baudrillard to Alfred Hitchcock to sit alongside their fictional creations. This was when the show was at its most interesting - when Hitchcock's discussion on the nature of suspense nestled snuggly within a very Hitchockian suspense thriller that left us guessing when and where the bangs were going to come. And at its best the charming sunday evening BBC drama narrative was carried along on a heady stew of interesting ideas bubbling beneath it - the explosion as a tool for decentering subjectivity, and (most prominently) the explosion as an image, whether in film, propaganda or as 'a work of art'.
When these ideas didn't complement the central narrative so well it could feel a little like a reasonably acted C-rate thriller with excerpts postmodernism insterted like ad breaks to raise the brow a little higher. But generally it was a thoughtful piece and for that you are willing to forgive it its failings. So go see it.