26 March 2018
Reaching out a hand, by Kate Wyver
Imagine me. Okay.
Imagine you. Yep.
Imagine us sitting in a dark theatre. Imagine us in virtual reality. Imagine us watching the lights of a UFO as we munch on a packet of crisps. Imagine us stuck on a sidewalk as we try and draw a perfect circle. Imagine us plucking off our fingers and toes and unpacking our insides as we tell our story on a stage.
As I’m writing this, the last embers of the party in the bar upstairs are flickering. The last dancers are filtering out. The idea of wanting someone to dance with resonates so strongly with the utterly delightful Lights Over Tesco Carpark, the odd and awkward and beautifully realised show from Poltergeist Theatre that explores aliens, friendship, faith and theatre, and this issue’s cover. I’ve rarely known a show have such willing participants for audience interaction, such was the level of delight they created. The show is reviewed on pages 8-9.
Though Carpark is entirely different in tone to all of the other shows at the festival so far, this strand of wanting someone to dance with beats through many of them. In Eve Allin’s Seeking Intimacy (pages 10-11), buoyant test-tube participants gallop through the hallway as the warm feelings of love are refrigerated and manufactured. In Stevie Thomas’ 1001010 (pages 6-7) the desire to be seen as they see themself is strong, a hand reaching out, offering acceptance and celebration.
Intimacy and personal experiences have been laid bare over the past few days, with a number of one-person shows and often dark stories of struggle. Though largely affecting, Ava Davies unpicks the difficulty of criticising a show based on something so personal, of skinning a performance based on someone’s own flesh (page 3). But as has been the basis of so many discussions and part of today’s panel (which itself is analysed by Naomi Obeng on page 13), disagreement and criticism are healthy, and discussion vital.
It is strange that a story about a lonely alien can be just as moving as someone’s deeply personal battle. But that is the beauty of theatre. It makes us care. It takes strangers and puts them together in the same room and makes them believe in something for a while. I think maybe Poltergeist Theatre got it right at the end of Carpark: “If we’re feeling this together maybe that’s enough.”