Blam!, Peacock Theatre, London – review

For anyone who works in an office, for those subjected to the hierarchies of business and officialdom, some very clever Danes have come up with an answer, a protest, direst revenge. Blam! starts out with four chaps in an office – any office – with three at their desks, the fourth in some slightly elevated position, in every sense of the word. A quiet industriousness reigns, as does almost tangible boredom. Slightest moments of unease, smallest cracks in calm dedication to the task in hand, become apparent. (My companion for the evening, who worked for some years in large German and Swiss enterprises, recognised the stifling tedium.)

Gradually tiny games emerge and, like many a tiny game, grow like Topsy and start to take over. And what we see is a stunningly funny and anarchic fantasy performed by four masters of what is now called “physical theatre” and is a dazzling combination of acrobatics, mime (that most dire of activities in the theatre, but here shown to be funny, wildly dangerous and irresistible) and beady-eyed social comment. The office becomes a battleground, a jungle, outer space, and the design by Kristian Knudsen, the lighting by Lee Curran, the vital soundtrack by Svend Kristensen, make it gloriously real and gloriously apt. (There is an extra-terrestrial, summoned up with the office water-cooler, who becomes as real as any of the other performers.)

I am not given to bursts of manic laughter during performances I attend – however much I may be provoked by a ballerina’s idea of Giselle – but the gradual collapse of order, of proper behaviour, the fierce onslaughts of fantasy, of cinematic jokes, the prodigious physical resourcefulness of the cast and inventiveness of the staging, are blissfully, jaw-crackingly funny, and wildly true as the inner selves of these four men are revealed. Kristian Ingimarsson, Lars Gregerson, Didier Oberlé and Janus Elsig are the geniuses in the cast. The staging is created by Ingimarsson, who is a double genius. The show runs until November 16, and I hope that someone will film it. It is a Danish National Treasure.

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