One Man Rant

In One Man Rant, Alasdair Satchel creates images where there aren’t any. There isn’t so much as a bit of marker tape on stage throughout the performance, and yet we are drawn -- through mime and speech alone -- into the vivid universe of Al Dente, a quixotic but obsequious figure who is stuck in a job he hates, in a society he scorns.  

We watch him go through his morning routine believing there’s a toothbrush in his hand, as we believe there’s a keyboard, a monitor, a whole office, and, at the end, a talking shite in a laundry basket (seriously). Satchel even convinces when playing two characters at once, deftly switching between the sniveling Al and his “Dickensian work master gone wrong” boss, Mr Angouillette (which means “little sausage” in French).

In Al, Satchel creates a pathetic, somewhat oily individual who leans on the furthest reaches of his imagination to get through the day. When we meet Al, he is running late for work. “A sweaty man,” opens the hour-long monologue, “is by no means a pretty sight”.  Of course, as with most things superficially hilarious, there is substance here as well.

What is striking in this respect are the meta-theatrics. For the most part, this absurd story takes place in Al’s imagination. But, due to the absolute lack of props, the play takes place in ours. We are, bafflingly, imagining Al’s imagination, which inevitably means that each spectator has a different 'visual' experience than the next. 

Oddly enough, the show’s most poignant moment comes when Satchel performs what he calls “fruity puppetry”. Having fallen from a three-storey window in an attempt to leave the office, Al returns for a brief moment with a cantaloupe for a head and bananas for fingers -- a metaphor, it would seem, for the awkwardness of his existence. The melon-head is a puppet, controlled masterfully by Satchel as 'Al' cries on the shoulders (or knees) of spectators. The scene is at once eerie, touching, and funny in the way only nonsense can be. One Man Rant is a feat of perspicacity, wit and rare physical skill.

Samantha Leese