It’s been more than two weeks since I saw The Get Out at the Royal Court and considering the production had only three performances and hardly a week of rehearsal, it’s safe to say it took me longer to write the review than it took for the production to come together. No matter. Don’t hold my slowness against it. Because The Get Out punched way above its weight and it deserves a write-up (even if it is by a slow writer like me).
At the Royal Court website, it says this is a “new late-night revue style show conceived by writers Robin French and Anthony Neilson”. Submissions were from Royal Court staff of any capacity, the performance was put together in record time. None of these gives a sense for the actual result, that feels like a leaner, punchier version of Mr Burns. (As much as I love Mr Burns, a leaner version of it is a very attractive proposition.)
Surreal and with pop culture at its heart, The Get Out exists in a world of apocalyptic ruins, even if it’s only the subtext of the narrative. The set is a run down hollowed-out theatre, the actors are dressed in black tie and formal gowns but the clothes are torn and dirty and with a touch of vampire chic. Among the ruins, snapshots of stories play out, screamingly funny (and there were actual screeches of laughter), yet undercut with the threat of the impeding doom. These people haven’t noticed it’s the end of the world as we know it, and they still feel fine. If a little frazzled.
The stories have an unusual – if not obvious – coherence and cross-pollinate each other: James Bond has cracked and is humping anything in sight (not a million miles from the real thing then), a woman wants to hire an arsehole (“male or female? yes it can be female. Everyone assumes it’s only male”), a dark Jedi master contemplates what’s in a name, a postcoitus discussion contains the sentence “Mr Pipkins is going to be sick”, the job interview tip that nobody needs and so on. Trust me, it makes sense.
The cast – Pippa Bennett-Warner, Jonjo O’Neill, Barnaby Power, Imogen Doel, Nathaniel Martello-White, Sophie Russell – threw themselves – in some occasions literally – into the adventure. It’s glee and gloves off matched by rare precision. Hats off to everyone.
Last year, the Royal Court had a rep season of six plays with the same cast, each one playing for a week. This year, we had The Get Out. I very much hope we will see more of these fast-response productions, that – unencumbered by the need to deliver on a large scale – can achieve a rare and sharp immediacy.