Theater archives

A New Theatre of Mistakes Presents Going (with Coming)


The British performance group the Theatre of Mistakes pioneered structure-based performance in the 1970s, creating work that incorporated chance elements, the mirroring of one performer’s actions by another, and language and gestures drawn from the immediate environment. Founding member Fiona Templeton has restaged the group’s piece Going, originally performed in 1978, adding an improvised section titled Coming. As realized by Templeton’s current company, the Relationship, Going (with Coming) demonstrates the continued vitality and strangeness of the basic techniques that the Theatre of Mistakes employed.

The piece is structured around a simple rule: For the duration of the work (about an hour), none of the performers is allowed to leave the stage space, despite their apparently strenuous efforts to do so. The same set of interactions are repeatedly enacted, with different performers taking part: one pushes another to the ground, or encourages her to leave, or drops a pack of cigarettes. The piece is not only Beckettian in its title, but in the metaphoric overtones evoked by the oblique text and actions. The performers seem at various times to be trapped within a failing personal relationship, an ominous political situation, and the very condition of performing itself. Templeton’s young company performs energetically (at one point even splintering a table), and their generally sharp, precise choices keep this austere piece consistently engaging.