The Oh Fuck Moment

Ten Plagues

Fuck, I thought. The auditorium lights came up and I turned to my left to remedy the situation with no avail. She was up and out of there. Like a Hollywood movie, the crowd swallowed the staircase she’d used to leave. My chance was gone.

It was just before Ten Plagues began at the Traverse I found myself sitting next to a fairly established writer whose work I have read on countless occasions. It could’ve been the opportune networking moment, had I recognised her. Had I not had the awkward conversation about where she’s from and what she does and sounded like more of an ignorant numpty than a sophisticated and well-read reviewer.

It was just after Ten Plagues began that it clicked. The show itself is marmite. If you like Marc Almond, you’ll probably love it. If you are unfamiliar, it’s quite alienating. Mark Ravenhill’s new musical theatre piece is (quite frankly) an hour long lament about the plague. Still, it has its moments – the most engrossing being the wig scenario and the climatic final song in which audience plants join in (disconcerting if one is standing next to you) giving way to a powerful ending.

But at that point, I couldn’t care less about the plague. Resolving with ‘just have a quick chat at the end and it’ll be fine’, I settled into the performance. The stage was a blank wooden box, on the surfaces of which, images were projected. Underneath, a piano centred numerous music stands. It was dark. In my head, I’d missed the opportunity of a dream career. In reality, I’d missed a coffee meeting. At the most. Even that was unlikely.

What I’d just experienced was a key example of an ‘oh fuck’ moment. Ironically, only hours earlier, I’d made my peace with all previous slip-ups at a performance of The Oh Fuck Moment. (Now, I was not at peace). Poet Hannah Jane Walker and Fringe First winner Chris Thorpe use storytelling, poetry and audience interaction to delve into our most embarrassing/frustrating/painful (as in ‘ouch’) experiences, the ones where you’re so far in that hole there’s no coming back alive. Where it goes, or exactly what it’s trying to say I’m not sure, but the use of space – a meeting room somewhere in the realms of St. George’s West with office stationery and paper strewn everywhere – is admirable.

When you have such an experience, where you couldn’t count the ‘u’s between the ‘f’ and the ‘c’, reassurance that we’re all fuck-ups doesn’t help. We’re miserable creatures and lamenting about it for an hour is much more fun. (Perhaps not for those around you.)

The Oh Fuck Moment is showing @ St. George’s West until 28th Aug, various times 1hr

Ten Plagues is showing @ Traverse Theatre until 28th Aug