Rapid Gambit’s Faileontology – review

UEA Drama Studio played host to Rapid Gambit’s performance of Faileontology in Thursday 10 January. The performance, which took place in front of an intimate audience, was written, devised and performed by Tom Butterworth and Tom Francis, two UEA graduates, with support from Escalator Performing Arts.

Equal parts comedy, surrealism and science fiction, Faileontology almost defies genre. It focuses on two characters: Jacques, a mad scientist whose job it is to keep the universe spinning and “make reality happen”, and Albert, his sarcastic, unimpressed assistant. The two men, depicted perfectly by Tom Francis and Tom Butterworth respectively, build a machine out of clocks, lanterns and a bird cage, which proceeds to magnify the effects of gravity, loop time, and eventually leads to Jacques’ hilariously daring escape, as he flies away by flapping his arms and crashing into the exit.

Whilst there were some minor technical problems with the lighting and sound effects, the performance itself was very well received, being met by constant laugher from the audience. The dialogue was witty and original, creating the theoretical scientific world of the play.

The physical theatre pieces were also hugely successful; both characters unable to move due to the increased force of gravity within the room, and the humorous elements were well received. However, the greatest moment within the performance had to be when both characters came on dressed as Marilyn Monroe, complete with blonde wigs, and delivered a highly emotional performance that kept the audience laughing well past the close of the show.

Overall Faileontology was a very enjoyable and original performance, one that was unafraid to delve into the complexities of scientific language, but that still managed to entertain an audience as completely as a modern day farce. Rapid Gambit intends to take this piece to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and if Thursday’s performance is anything to go by, it will bring a burst of creativity and innovation to a festival that is famous for just that.


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January 2022
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