This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.
Two big crosses on the stage mark the positions where the two performers stand, red cross for her, blue cross for him. The colour coded microphones provide the instrument for them to read out the words projected onto the screen, from intro to outro. A backing music track comes on that is more akin to a relaxation CD than a rowdy karaoke evening down at the pub. This is a karaoke of sorts where words are not sung but spoken.
This is a thoughtful piece of theatre by the Sleepwalk Collective that questions the nature of a theatrical performance. It queries the spontaneous nature of theatre with words and script written, regardless of the existence of the autocue. It acknowledges the need for the audience to suspend its disbelief and says so explicitly. It then goes deeper than that, the script brings out elements of the real people behind the performers and hints at the deeper relationship between them and further explores the idea of a performance.
Another major theme is the existential questioning of the purpose of them as performers and us as an audience. Mortality also features which ties in with the existentialist theme: how far we are from the end of the show; how many more times our heart will beat before the end of the show and before we expire. All this would be outrageously pompous if not for the deadpan delivery of the two performers. Iara Solano Arana and Sammy Metcalfe merely deliver what is on screen, disengaging themselves from the pseudo-intellectual material that may otherwise be too clever and overbearing. Though the monotonous delivery and the hypnotic soundtrack can get dreary, this is countered by the script addressing the boredom induced by the middle section of the performance. It shows that the production has been developed, at the Battersea Arts Centre and elsewhere, over a period of time to arrive at this current form.
This is not a show for everyone as the idiosyncratic style and content can be offputting. It invites imagination that takes this show beyond what it appears to be and a little effort from the audience makes the spoken words into song.
Photo Alessia Bombaci