Expectations and potential

Expectations and potential

27 March 2018

 Naomi Obeng finds Hatch atmospheric, but all too brief

Being an audience member with some insight into the ideas that have gone into a performance, a show takes on a few extra tones and nuances. A few more points on the map. I wrote about Hatch in the preview issue of Noises Off, so I had ideas about and expectations of the show.

It’s an altogether different way of engaging with a show because as I watch it, I can tease the future potential from the many strands of ideas that I know are part of its fabric behind the scenes. A glimpse of an idea sparks associations with information that isn’t given in the show, but that I know is an important part of it. Watching it, I’m surrounded by a little more context than those around me.

This piece evokes its atmosphere effectively. The solitary bright hatch light, and the stars twisted around the metal structure of the bed: glint of light and a world outside. Sarah Carton’s writing is expressive and lyrical. Images of turmeric and icebergs jump out and grab you. The soundscape is deep and lingers as though it’s dragging itself along a bedroom floor, painfully moving emotions that have hit rock bottom forward through time. The difficulty of navigating loneliness and being apart, along with the toughness of relationships – of feeling screwed over by someone and dealing with the life-changing consequences – would have been sufficient to build a journey out of alone. To also tackle power and women in prison as well as relationships on the outside needed more time and space to come across in the same original way.

As such, the direction it takes flits between a story about heartbreak and isolation, and a story about prison and misuse of power. In the end, the former prevails, leaving less space to delve into the nebulous issues and questions that the latter brings up. It’s not surprising that the scenes feel like a series of glimpses. There are too many ideas and influences to fit into 30 minutes. There’s potential in each and I wanted them to have time to develop and grow.

Carton plays Jess with confidence but I kept expecting more vulnerability and less bravado from her, another expectation, I realise, based on what I knew of the show already. I wanted to see her journey with a sense of development and see the isolation finally take her towards meeting herself, herself when no one is watching. I want to see this show when it's longer and more in depth, having decided whose story it’s aiming to tell and what information is needed to best tell it.

Whether there is a way to do this without fundamentally changing the form and the story being told, I don’t know.

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Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca