Get a personalised letter from Santa

A Series Of Impossible Acts sees love and pain revealed in futile tasks

PUBLISHED: 06:05 08 January 2015

A Series of Impossible Acts

A Series of Impossible Acts


The Secret Theatre Company’s new show sees the audience take centre stage, says Ben Lazarus.

“It’s a bit like the feeling you get from doing a massive bungee jump or diving into the freezing cold sea,” says actress Matti Houghton of her latest role.

A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts, devised by The Secret Theatre Company, sees the audience take centre stage in deciding how this riotous show will play out by selecting which cast member plays the protagonist.

“It is a series of increasingly impossible acts that one person does every night,” says Houghton.

“We go around the audience at the start and each of us gets someone to write our names on a piece of paper which they then put in a hat.

“One audience member picks out the name of the person to undertake all these tasks. It is completely random.”

Once chosen, the nine other cast members put the protagonist through their paces in a series of endurance tests which range from licking their elbow, holding their hand in an ice bucket, eating a whole lemon, walking through walls or moving objects with their mind.

Houghton says the 20 tasks and searching questions about their fears and insecurities vary between the physically and emotionally challenging.

“Fear wrestling is the worst. You have to state three of your fears and then get wrestled by another person.

“It is literally free-form wrestling, you strip each other’s clothes off. There is no health and safety precaution and it can get quite brutal.

“One time at the Arts Depot in North Finchley, I was wrestling another girl and she split her chin open. It’s quite a miracle that is the only major injury we’ve had because we really do go for it.”

The show is an emotional rollercoaster, says Houghton for both audience and performers who do not have the usual back-up of a script and character.

“It is totally exhausting when you are the protagonist. You go on an emotional journey. We have to be pretty honest when asked these big questions. It’s a draining show to do because you are not hiding behind a character or supported by a text. The difficult thing about this is - it’s just you.”

Despite its gruelling nature, Houghton loves the fact that the show “strips down the artifice of theatre”.

“Everything you see is real. Everything is in the moment because it has to be.

“The protagonist doesn’t know what coming next so it’s moving away from the idea that the audience and actors know what’s coming, which is one of the big problems with theatre.”

The show was a hit at this year’s Edinburgh fringe where Guardian reviewer Lyn Gardner described it as a joyous, giddy celebration of “human endeavour in all its absurdity, futility and insane optimism”.

Houghton agrees that in showing an individual struggle to endure, it deals with the big issues we all face in life: “love, relationships, and pain.”

“In moments, it’s really uplifting, and others it’s really heartbreaking. It’s a journey of loss.”

A Series of Impossible Acts runs at The Tricycle in Kilburn High Road from January 12-31.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Yesterday, 17:22

England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed Harry Kane after the Spurs forward grabbed a late winner to send the impressive Three Lions through to the UEFA Nations League finals.

Yesterday, 16:15

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.

Yesterday, 16:09

Arsenal maintained their 100 per cent FA WSL record with a 4-0 win over Everton in Southport.

Yesterday, 15:58

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 15:51

Hendon made their longest ever League trip, to Tiverton on Saturday, and returned to London with a point from a goalless stalemate.

Yesterday, 13:01

Wingate & Finchley endured a frustrating afternoon at Nyewood Lane after slipping to defeat to Bognor Regis Town – despite twice taking the lead either side of the break.

Yesterday, 10:48

Arsenal want to be part of any discussions on a future European Super League, but deny they would break away from the Premier League it a new competition comes to fruition.

Yesterday, 10:31

Great Britain’s women were defeated 2-0 by Australia in their second match at the FIH Women’s Champions Trophy in China.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now