Sound advice

21 April 2019

Lucy Thompson deconstructs Standing Too Close On Our Own In The Dark

If I’d let it, Standing Too Close On Our Own In The Dark would have made me angry. Angry, because it knows it’s a self-indulgent show and does nothing to combat that. Angry because of the way it talks about, ignores, and romanticises this girl. Instead, I chose to laugh at it.

I firmly believe criticism should be constructive – but in this case the best way to do react critically and usefully was by having fun.

So I’m going to go through my live response to Standing Too Close On Our Own In The Dark, and we’re going to deconstruct some ideas about romanticising women andromanticising platonic friendships.

“Dark fantasy cabaret”. I’m very here for this. This sounds very cool.

We’re talking about space. Cool. The universe is big, it’s fun to think about.

...So when you say you know that this show is “totally self-indulgent”...You know that saying this doesn’t make it not self-indulgent, right?

Is this story romantic, or do you think it’s romantic? What’s the working definition of ‘romance’ here...

More space. Fate? Universe. Hm...Does anyone get to have control here?
“I don’t know if it’s hyperbolic to say she was the most beautiful girl in the world.” Yes.

Yes it is. You know it is.


I have a question about her big green eyes, like deep pools that you can swim in. Are you ironically reclaiming a cliché?

Ditto for the Rapunzel hair.

This whole standing-alone-at-a-party thing. It’s very brave to talk about male insecurity, and I really respect that. ~However~ don’t imagine that this girl is saving you by drawing you out or anything. No one can rescue someone else. You gotta be your own strength. Not fair on her or you to depend on her like that.

“I curse the universe for bringing her to me in the first place.” I’m not one to comment on what’s written in the stars but idk. She’s not a parcel?

You’re not cool for reading Jack Kerouac
She’s not cool for reading Jack Kerouac

(Everyone’s read Jack Kerouac)
Oh, and she bought you your first pack of cigarettes. Of course.

Own the fact that you like Love Actually! We are 100% here for men embracing non-traditionally-masculine things. 10/10

Lit songs tbf

“She drank red wine out of a mug that said ‘I’m a knobhead’.” Why are you presenting this to us as though it’s kooky/special? Feels like it’s placing deep meaning behind ordinary things. This girl can just be ordinary sometimes, yaknow.

^ Google this.

“I know I’m taking something out on her that isn’t her fault, but –” My bro. My dude. There are no excuses. Don’t treat people like this.

More good songs.
Don’t romanticise alcoholism. Don’t romanticise alcoholism

Being self-aware and self-referential about the lead character’s dependence on alcohol does not mean you aren’t romanticising alcoholism.

Agency (noun): When she can say ‘no’ to you and it’s important you understand that she can mean it, and that you shouldn’t wait til she ‘changes her mind’. When you decide to ‘wait’, you’re saying that you know better than she does about her ‘real’ feelings. You are not recognising or respecting her decision.

“Twinkle-fingers” is very funny and I immensely enjoy his contributions.

Very important to be open about anxiety, again I applaud this. Maybe it’s glossed over a bit?

^ Have a look at Amy Dunne’s monologue from Gone Girl. It talks about the she’s-not-like-other-girls compliment (because she’s cool – she’s edgy – she likes things that you (the Man) do) and how it’s a not-good thing.

Still not sure what the goal of this piece is. Are we supposed to be sympathetic to the main character’s feelings?

Kinda hard to be sympathetic when everything revolves around making this girl realise they’re meant to be together. She is not yours to manipulate. Ask her, get an answer, and let that be the end.

My friend got out a Mars Bar and ate it in the middle of the performance, just cos she was hungry. Quirky and weird right? Just like the girl in the show?

“He doesn’t know what to do if he’s not with you.” Again!! No!! It’s never healthy to depend on someone like that. It’s bad for you, cos your whole being is invested in someone else, and it’s bad for her because she didn’t ask or consent to be your reason for living. That’s a...massive responsibility on a person.

The language (not subject) in this piece and the music is beautiful. Making art like this is really amazing you should def do more of it.

There are other things to do in life than live for someone else.

“I can see time.” Fair.

“I felt dead and the magnificent pain you caused me made me live again.” Aghhhh Agghhhh

^ This sounds harsh and it’s not meant to. What I’m saying is, dating this girl isn’t all-or-die. Sure, she’s amazing. Take a step back and see her as a whole person, not just a love interest. If she’s a great person, and she doesn’t want to date you, you don’t need to cut her out your life completely; and if you can’t conceive of being ‘just friends’ then that’s something to work on.

Once more with feeling: There are other things to do in life than live for someone else.

To the writer: Make more art and theatre. The sounds and the images you made with words were really engaging. But please: when you romanticise someone like this, you stop seeing them as a person outside of that. So maybe next time you write, imagine a whole person and not a beautiful, cool and different edgy smoking Kerouac-reading sexy funny Cool Girl one-that-got-away ethereal –

Also, back yourself more. Don’t need someone else to bring you light.

@noffmag / [email protected]

Photo credit: Beatrice Debney