In the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Programme, Anyone’s Guess How We Got Here is described as ‘[…] a road trip. A haunted house. A bedtime story. A photo album. An 80s fantasy film. A demolition project. A riot.’ Indeed, Barrel Organ’s production is deliciously, tantalisingly elusive – it evades you as you watch it, always two steps ahead as you run to keep up.
The play begins: two young women are in a car, driving. They laugh, play games and re-enact Thelma and Louise – but it feels tense. It transpires that they are travelling back to their childhood home. One of the women claims she left ‘something’ there, as a child, when her family were evicted for owing mortgage repayments. She wants to get this mysterious ‘something’ back, to come to terms with the present. As the women confront the past head-on, Anyone’s Guess becomes a political ghost story, a comment on the debt crisis and a more personal bildungsroman, rolled into one.
Anyone’s Guess How We Got Here is a theatrical Back to the Future: it manages to make the past exciting. Despite simple staging, a small cast and the naturalistic dialogue, the pair of actors create a magnetic atmosphere within Camden People’s Theatre. Though the sparring between the actors is quick and often laugh-out-loud funny, much of the play is told through monologues addressed to the audience; these never fall flat, and have a frenetic energy about them that keeps the drama afloat. The actors drift apart and come back together again, getting lost in their own thoughts before snapping back to reality to play another game of ‘Fuck. Marry. Kill’. This is a play about the interaction of darkness and light, after all.
Lighting and sound are also used to excellent effect. During some of the more unsettling scenes (particularly the dream sequences) the lighting in the auditorium is obliterated – all we see is the flash of a torch, or perhaps a faint red glow. 80s inspired synth music is used in the background, sighing and heaving as the action takes place. Though the play is relatively bare of props (the bedroom has no bed, for example) we feel the presence of the old house; we are with the girl in her childhood bedroom. This replicates the atmosphere of a half-remembered past: present, but with some of the detail rubbed out.
Multi-award winning theatre company Barrel Organ have managed to create a truly electric piece of theatre. It manages to feel both nostalgic and current, and has something important to say without feeling preachy. It will make you smile, it will make you scared – and everything in between. A must see.