“Do you think you’re being clever?” Chris Thorpe posed this question to Ben Kulvichit and Clara Potter-Sweet at last year’s NSDF about their crowd-pleasing show Celebration. The question could equally be asked of Kulvichit’s selected piece this year, Chris Goode’s Speed Death of the Radiant Child. Walking out of the show, I heard multiple conversations led by a slight squirm and a final admittal of: “I don’t think I’m clever enough for it.”
I didn’t get all of Speed Death. It is immensely intellectual. But I got the feeling of it. It is furious and glorious and exudes vulnerability. The body becomes a vessel for nuclear disaster. Destruction is everywhere. The words ooze violence. Its ambiguity in amongst its utter self-assurance is what I have been waiting for at the festival this year. On page 8 Lily James pins down her thoughts on the show, while Daniella Harrison unpicks her own confusion on page 9.
With my head still reeling from the destructive innards of Speed Death and the looming deadline of this issue, our managing editor Richard Tzanov slipped away, having to leave the festival a few days before the rest of us. Richard has been my editor for the past two years of Noises Off. He has taught me the values of kindness, consideration and absolute determination that are needed to put this thing together. I have learnt masses from him - from the way he talks to defensive directors to his bad jokes and good playlists. I will massively miss him from this team.
Richard’s departure also left me feeling temporarily adrift as I realised my safety blanket had been ripped from my shoulders. His leadership has always encouraged me to pave my own way both as a writer and later as an editor, and has encouraged me to push myself and learn. I think Speed Death, in some way, has done something similar.
Speed Death is a piece of art that makes me want to learn. It is not simply because of how clever it is, but because of what it is saying.
Look how much there is to see, it prompts. Look at the weight of it all. Let’s make the most of it before it’s gone.