They Built It. No One Came, is a play about where earnestness becomes naivety, and integrity starts to look ridiculous. It follows Tobias (Christopher Neels) and Alexander (Patrick Holt), two idealists who form a peaceful commune named ‘Humbleton’ – a place they envisaged as a refuge from modern society – hoping to attract others like themselves. Eight years later, and they still remain the commune’s only members.
That is until Tim (immediately dubbed ‘Brother Pablo’, and played by Callum Cameron) shows up, an anxiety-ridden outsider sick of the mockery he endures back home. Here is the chance they’ve been waiting for, to introduce someone to the idyllic refuge they have created. Of course, nothing quite goes right for this group of serial no-hopers.
Directed by Lucy Wray and written also by Callum Cameron, ‘They Built It. No one came.’ is a sweet little nugget of comedy, clever and sharply delivered. Staging and lighting are simple; it’s all about the writing, and Cameron is to be commended for a play that offers this talented cast a chance to use subtle comic timing to excellent effect.
I cannot possibly fail to mention Edoardo Elia, whose musical and comedic accompaniment adds a whimsical quality that cleverly complements the Brothers’ yearning for profundity. The music is thoughtfully woven into the whole, and Elia’s expression turns from playful to deadpan with skilful ease. It is really very funny – simple as that.
Though the last third is the weakest (the arguments feeling a little affected in some moments), there isn’t much that is extraneous in this play. The enduring optimism motivating these characters is lovable right to the end. Tobias and Alexander are so desperate to live a more authentic life, and yet are foiled by their own inability to engage with the standard marketing practices of the day. Without any art to their sales pitch, their earnestness is all the more endearing. This is a very loveable trio of misfits; their silliness is most charming.
They Built It. No One Came. is a play that will speak to everyone’s inner weirdo. I look forward to what comes next from this quirky group, and encourage everyone to go along and enjoy this little gem as they make their tour of the country!
Review by Christina Carè Calgaro
Eight years ago Tobias and Alexander came together to form a spiritualist commune based on their shared visions of a peaceful and harmonious community… they are still awaiting their first member.
They Built It. No One Came was inspired by a true story originally published in the New York Times under the same name by Penelope Green in 2015. Shortlisted for the Charlie Hartill Award in early 2016, They Built It. No One Came. subsequently went on to preview at the New Diorama Theatre in July before going on to a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Tue 31 January-Sat 4 February 2017