“Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, and let me invite you into my askew little project…”
So begins The Gog/Magog Project, a dark comedy and “absurdist circus in a cage” from Random Acts Theatre, making their London debut at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Camden. More than a decade ago, Alexander Gog embarked on a radical experiment, caging himself in a theatre and delivering nightly performances from his cell for a period of one year as part of The Gog/Magog Project. Tragically, what was meant to be one year has become fifteen, with Gog moved from venue to venue, country to country, and made to survive on a diet of The Daily Telegraph and Banana-Flavoured ‘Moon Pies’.
“Broadly speaking the show is about the lengths a person will go to for the sake of artistic expression,” explains Kate Wilson, the show’s producer, “though it is also something of a critique of much contemporary commercial theatre. Alexander Gog acts as a voice against the mundane, run of the mill plays we are so often subject to. The Gog/Magog Project is a witty social commentary with culture at its heart.”
Gog’s situation has caught the attention of civil rights authorities, who claim that he’s being exploited for the financial gain of the pharmaceutical industry, sporting goods manufacturers, and government interests, and call for his immediate release despite his seemingly voluntary imprisonment. From behind the bars of his home, Gog – played by Random Acts co-founder Adam Brummitt – takes audiences with him in “a virtuoso performance which is as unnerving as it is hilarious”.
It all sounds a bit disturbing, particularly since the show is billed as “not for the faint hearted”. Should we be scared…? “No, I don’t think so,” says Kate. “The humour is somewhat dark, and sometimes a little uncomfortable, though even as Gog’s grip on reality begins to recede the play continues to draw laughter.”
Random Acts Theatre was founded in 2001 by Adam Brummitt and Khnemu Menu-Ra, when they were both drama undergraduates. Since then, the company has produced work consistently in St Louis, Chicago, and Exeter, where Kate came on board and helped produce the first two runs of The Gog/Magog Project. “As a company, Random Acts Theatre is dedicated to confronting issues from which people might otherwise shy away. Given this, the idea of a play which critiques mainstream theatre seemed an obvious choice. It is also an outstanding piece of writing in its own right, from a playwright whose work has not been produced in London before now.”
In fact The Gog/Magog Project is Random Acts’ first London show in their 15-year history. “We are extremely excited about the first of many shows in the capital, and the prospect of introducing audiences to a host of innovative and original productions.
“The Gog/Magog Project is the perfect antidote to the sameness of many of the plays housed on the West End. Jason Lindner’s script, with Adam Brummitt’s additions, make for an entertaining and memorable evening, and one which will make viewers consider their role as an audience member.”
The Gog/Magog Project is at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 29th October.