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11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
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London SE10 9QF

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11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Cog is a Certified B Corporation

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It Don’t Worry Me

It Don’t Worry Me

Our May Cog Night was at New Diorama Theatre, tucked away between Gazprom’s headquarters, Euston Station and UCL. Was this really the place to watch cutting-edge experimental theatre?

Laura gives us her verdict.

It was the evening of our annual discussion day, and tired from all the reflecting, talking and planning the team weren’t up for anything too taxing. We were told there would be men in their pants – as well as free pizza. Apparently the piece would explore the tension between art and political correctness. But did I mention the pants and pizza?

I went into It Don’t Worry Me knowing nothing about what I was about to see, and left the play having no clue about what had happened – but knowing I loved it anyway.

Pre-show drinks in the bar Pre-show drinks in the bar
Pre-show drinks in the bar Pre-show drinks in the bar

So what did actually happen. and what did it all mean? 

Those are tricky answer. In trying to explain you can’t help but fall into the trap of sounding like the pretentious and overly-analytical luvies the play is gently teasing – the types that can make theatre (or any other art form) so impenetrable and alienating for audiences without PhDs in art criticism, a MUBI subscription or lifetime supply of black cashmere polonecks. 

But as an ex-MUBI subscriber – I will give it a go.

An audience look on to an empty performance space, in the corner is a portable white-board

The audience waiting for the show to begin

Off-stage via microphone, two men (Bertrand and Albert) offer a running third person commentary on the ‘action’ taking place on the empty white-box of a stage for longer than feels comfortable.

Eventually, Bertrand enters (FULLY CLOTHED) and stands in the corner of the white square, whilst Albert comments on his movements from off-stage. Albert then enters (also fully dressed – I want my money back by now!), his actions dissected by Bertrand in turn. They keep commenting on the rising tension in the room, to the amusement of the audience who are finding it anything but tense. 

Over the course of the next 40 minutes, the two actors-come-narrators earnestly dissect the increasingly absurd movements and actions each takes. They dance, they strip, they ride each other like horses, they simulate fellatio. They writhe on the floor under strobe light. Like a fringe show narrated by David Attenborough, Dennis Taylor and Simon Schama.

It’s mad – and incredibly funny. 

The performers take a no curtain, curtain-call The performers take a no curtain, curtain-call

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that the performance was meant to be dissecting political correctness and art until Bertrand and Albert invite the ‘audience’ to participate in a Q&A at the ‘end’ of the piece.

But it is far from the end. In fact, it’s what the whole performance has been building up to.

Two stooges kitted-out in cowboy shirts place pillowcases over their heads and, in turn, offer their ‘questions’ to the actors. But like too many post-show Q&As – these aren’t questions. They are rambling virtue-signalling statements completely disconnected to anything we’ve just seen. 

As the actors look on uncomfortably, trying to regain control of the roving mic, the stooges outperform each other in classist and xenophobic rants. You can definitely feel the tension rising now.

Bertrand and Albert encourage their female director to add her voice into the mix – surely a calming safe pair of hands! But she is as outrageous as the two men in the audience – and they quickly bundle her off stage. 

The Cog team in the bar after the show The Cog team in the bar after the show

The audience isn’t laughing anymore. It all feels a bit awkward and tense. 

Deflated, Albert and Bertrand retreat to the back of the stage. After scrawling ‘Sorry’ on the whiteboard, they pull down their pants. Bare bums towards the audience, their arse cheeks begin to dance in time with a country music track, ushering in the true end of the play. 

Mesmerised and slightly confused, we return to the bar for pizza.  

Weeks on, I am still not sure what the take home message of the piece is. Could it be about how the art world shuts out voices and conversations it isn’t comfortable with? Is it highlighting the pointlessness of inviting the audience in in the first place? Or is it just ribbing the indulgence of critics and artists who try to read meaning into all the wrong places?

Whatever it all meant, I haven’t laughed as hard in theatre in ages – and you can’t really ask for better than that.

It Don’t Worry Me was presented by ATRESBANDES & Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas

It was created and performed by Mònica Almirall, Bertrand Lesca, Miquel Segovia, Albert Pérez Hidalgo and Nasi Voutsas.
Co-commissioned by HOME, GIFT, Teatre Lilure, Cambridge Junction, and supported through the Stobbs New Idea Fund.

It was part of the New Diorama Theatre’s 10th anniversary season.

Illustration by Mariana Gonzalez Ortiz for our Cultural Calendar.