Jack & Master write that their aim is to create ‘theatre that is joyful, organic and playful, using acting and music not to compete with but to inform and develop one another’. Whilst their showcase Elemental, streamed on YouTube, definitely felt ‘joyful, organic and playful’, and was an excellent showcase of individual and collective talent, my one complaint would be that I did struggle to find how all of the pieces of the puzzle ‘informed and developed one another’. The shows of talent in a communal comedy sketch, spoken word poetry piece, and various song covers shone even across a computer screen, but the content felt disjointed in the movement between each one. I know that a showcase should not have to feel cohesive, but given that the show was themed, I would have liked to have seen slightly more connection.

“Everyone had high energy, bouncing off each other in a believably funny way despite the script.”

There was definitely a low-fi sensibility to a lot of the songs chosen, which was extended to the incredible arrangements of many of the pieces too – I even preferred Emily Beck’s stripped-back interpretation of Moon Song by Phoebe Bridgers without the additional soundscapes Bridgers uses – and I think this format worked well considering this was literally bedroom pop. Most performers chose to use their own bedrooms as their background, adding to this atmosphere. The exception was Ffion Godwin, who chose to use a black background and spotlight. This worked well as her pieces felt more thespian than the rest (an original spoken word poem and a cover of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Burn from Hamilton, impressively personally arranged and performed) and both were emotionally engaging from the start. However, the differences – although highlighting individual talent, which is obviously a great pursuit – did slightly add to the disjointed nature of the show.

“Given that the show was themed, I would have liked to have seen slightly more connection.”

My favourite pieces involved full cast collaboration, which felt joyfully harmonious despite the cast sitting in separate rooms scattered across the country. Here was the best of what can be made collectively in the arts even while put under strict conditions, with real chemistry evident between all players. Elemental was my favourite section; a comedy sketch based around the inability of all the cast members to interpret the theme “elemental” (which was, I promise, actually funny). It was also nice to see this as a thematically tight piece, against the disjointed feel of the rest of the show, that still allowed sportive exploration around the theme. We had the misinterpretation offer us a crime solving butler (you know, like “elemental, my dear Watson!”), the real housewives of “elementary” school, and even a cheesy “elemental” based joke.


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We ended with a nod to what we can all agree has been the best thing to have come out of the third lockdown, the Handforth Parish Council meeting. Throughout, small elements of attention to detail really showed the dedication of the cast and made this feel more like a collective show, even simply through using webcam filters, stopping them when the fourth wall was broken, and costumes to match the setting of each sketch. There were even brief sections of (presumably) custom-made animation. The comedy felt real despite their separation and everyone had high energy, bouncing off each other in a believably funny way despite the script. This felt ‘joyful, organic, and playful’, as did the final song, a cover of Wellerman by the whole cast, with lovely harmonies and a playful pirate act from all, complete with costumes.

While I would definitely recommend Elemental, especially for the full-cast sections, the haphazard structure of the performance did bother me. Perhaps this was intentional for the showcase and for the moment – after all, we all have our talents scattered individually at the moment – but it did leave the piece feeling fragmentary to me.