It’s a theatre company they maintain while all pursuing different projects. Rutter is the director of the Everyman Youth Theatre, and Farquhar is currently working on Dead Heavy Fantastic, his new play that will be the final work put on by the Everyman theatre before it closes. Lynskey has been involved with a number of local theatre companies, including Hoof!, Spike, and Monkeylab.
If The Friendship Experiment sounds familiar, that’s because it was first performed at the Unity this time last year. They took it up to the Edinburgh Festival, and now return to their regular slot at the venue. And the trio are happy with the results.
Farquhar said: “The show has arrived now, personally speaking. It’s something that has constantly evolved, that has had a few nips and tucks but hopefully people won’t even be aware of that.” His constant hands-on approach gives Big Wow a way of working that they say doesn’t compare to anything else.
The Friendship Experiment is a multi-layered piece of comedy that is as simplistic as it is complex, as ambigious as it is somewhat autobiographical. It begins with the misleading impression that the audience are in for an improvised show, but ends up being anything but. It’s an impressive melee of physical performance and impressively well-written and well-timed comedy that sees Lynskey and Rutter whole-heartedly fling themselves around the stage, switching characters at a neck-breaking pace, and building up to a a climax as moving as it is ridiculous.
Rutter said: “We can chop and change the show because we are a small company, and hopefully, constantly improve. We have an utter love of what we do and a love of working together.”
“People aren’t indifferent to it, they either love it or hate it,” added Farquhar with a laugh. “But we love it. We wanted to do a show that was just unbridled, as we say in the show, relentless nobbing about. But watching what it’s turned in to, I was really proud of the way the layers come off the show – and the performers. When they’re talking about real things that have happened, that’s heartfelt.”
He added: “The show originated from the idea that people come to see a show they think is completely improvised. But our shows are always about something, satirising something. It’s proper theatre, it cannot work in any other medium. It’s two actors, on stage, sweating their bollocks off.”
As Big Wow, they are currently working on a Radio 4 commission of their show Insomnibabble, and thinking of the possibility of a spring tour of The Friendship Experiment. Lynskey said: “We’re always asked whether we’re comedy or theatre, as if we have to be one or the other and be pigeon-holed. It’s like you can’t be both. But it’s fun, and good to share with people who like it.”
Read my review of the show on Seven Streets.
The Friendship Experiment is on at the Unity until Saturday, January 29. For showtimes and information, visit the website.