Aug 19, 2023
Shamrock McShane, Arleen Wolf. Michael Garvin
NEW TO UK FILM REVIEW
Critics Chris Olson and Brian Penn host UK Film Club - a new film podcast covering all film types. From blockbusters to old favourites and even indie & shorts.
Tom Miller’s Audience invites you to take a seat for a surreal, layered, self-aware and perspective bending experience unlike any other. This box episode-style feature reflects on the pretentious nature of avant-garde theatre and one’s tendency to lose their own perspective in creative works whilst containing genuine humour and wit that delivers affability.
Theatre-lover Snerdly (Shamrock McShane) takes his seat for ‘Audience’ – an experimental live show in which the actors sit opposite from their viewers in order to observe them – effectively making the audience the show. Snerdly is unimpressed by the play’s gimmick, and is similarly unimpressed with his fellow audience members such as Linda (Carolyne Salt) and a phone-obsessed teenager (Skye Melrose) – who continuously disregard all theatre etiquette throughout the ‘performance’. But as the show goes on, Snerdly’s sense of self is thrown into question – as he begins to wonder where the whole audience/performer loop begins and ends…
Audience is an experimental and original film which achieves an anti-pretentiousness through a loving skewering of both the viewing and performing aspects of live theatre. Through the prism of grumpy, behaviour-policing Snerdly (who may be my new spirit animal), the film goes through a kaleidoscopic and perspective shifting journey – leaving viewers on their toes as to just who the audience and the actors in this work are. It’s a testament to Miller’s innovative storytelling that the film shifts gears right as we as the viewer feel we have figured out a twist or a quirk, upping the story’s ante and opening up the thematic territory that the film has to explore.
Shamrock McShane is a real highlight in the film’s leading role. His impatience, crankiness and irritability make him cantankerous, yet endearing, as a man just looking to enjoy his theatre experience. Yet the constant annoyances do not seem to awaken him to the fact that absolutely nothing worth seeing is happening in front of him – and that he himself is part of a ‘show’. Skye Melrose is suitably aloof and teeth-gratingly quirky as a phone-obsessed teenager who becomes the bane of Snerdly’s existence, and Carolyne Salt’s Linda owns some of the funnier moments of the film as her interjections highlighting poor behaviour from others end up enraging Snerdly more that the original perpetrators. The chemistry between the cast is exceptional, and allows each character to develop distinct and entertaining personalities.
The story itself is lucid and interpretive – with little and a lot happening simultaneously. The script ironically feels a little stagy and stunted, with interactions between characters often feeling too programmed, such as when Melrose’s teenage character unnaturally awaits the end of a whispered conversation to continue her frustrating phone call. This does not make the actual dialogue itself lesser however, and Miller succeeds in ensuring that each character speaks in a distinctive and unique voice.
There is so much to admire and enjoy in Audience’s originality and boldness. It’s a film that ought to leave an impression on its own viewers, particularly impressive given the complex and unconventional plot and storytelling. I would say take your seat for this one, but given that we’re all a bit of a Snerdly inside, maybe enjoy from the comfort of your own home instead…