PLAY the Goat is the latest brand new company to emerge from the Made in Bristol initiative, which is coming up to its tenth anniversary. Aged between 18 and 25, the members of Play the Goat have had the opportunity to develop their creative skills in the environment of the Bristol Old Vic and for the debut show have devised an offering that lives up to their avowed intention of “taking their audiences on bizarre and curious adventures”.
The particular adventure they embarked on was to create Felix, an activist network committed to to the achievement of complete and total happiness. Their latest scheme to achieve this aim is to pull a stunt on the train between Bristol and Paddington. With occasional musical backing, all supplied by members of the company, using the simplest of props some very inventive pictures of the train journey are created, and characters within the passengers.
What is less clearly presented in this show, which was devised by the company, is what exactly the original idea behind the stunt was, and how it would hopefully help to achieve the groups’ final aim of total global happiness. The fact that it backfired, because not all of the members of Felix were as committed to the cause as its leader Dani (Georgina Graham-Williams ), a lady full of absolute belief and intense passion to the ideals, with a resultant train crash and Dani being sent to prison, underlines the enormous gap between the desire to do good and achievement of that aim.
In many ways the twelve performing members of this company and those behind the production, headed co-directors Holly Gifford and Carlota Matos who used the vibrant energy of those on stage to dive this presentation forward with intensity and speed, suffers from the same problem that faces any political party when placing their manifesto before the public before an election.
With the politicians it’s a case of presenting a full programme that they know is impossible to carry out in the at-most five years they have before once more asking the public to back them again. In the case of Play the Goat they are seeking to understand the relationship between protesters and bystanders, apathy and activism and explain to a world that is looking for quick fixes what effect such hurried decisions will have on the future.
It is asking too much to cram all that into just 55 minutes, but when you have the sort of belief, commitment and energy that this young group have it would be wrong not to have gone for it in the full-blooded manner that they did. They are a very welcome addition to our local theatrical scene and there will be quite a few people looking out for their next presentation.