Are our lives predetermined or is fortune telling just a load of bollocks? This is the question asked by In Tents and Purposes by Viscera Theatre Company. Sam and Libby visit a fortune teller at a hippy festival soon after graduation, and have their palms read. Sam is given a great fortune: she’ll be a global success by the time she’s 30; by the time Libby is 30 she’ll have lost all her money and be alone.
The play follows the next ten years in Sam and Libby’s lives, as the predictions given them come true. But would life have been any different if they had been given each other’s fortunes? Is destiny real or is life what we make of it? Can prophecies be self-fulfilling? If only it were possible to turn back time and find out. In Tents and Purposes is a clever, witty, and very funny exploration of these questions, as well as being a play about friendship.
Between scenes about Sam and Libby, covering minor costume and set changes, another, meta story plays out, as the performers reveal the process of creating the show (either an artistic choice or a budgetary necessity depending on whom you believe) and engage in petty fights. These moments work well, and make a considerable contribution to the humour of the piece.
Alys Metcalf and Roxy Dunn are superb as Sam and Libby – and “themselves” in the meta sections – and, despite the low budget, this is a very slick-looking production. There are plenty of contemporary references to various people from pop culture, including Bridget Christie and Taylor Swift, as well as a rendition of Fergie’s London Bridge.
In Tents and Purposes is a complex play that deals with some deep questions in a smart and hilarious way. Watching it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.