Review: LONE17 June 2018
AT THE END YOU WILL HAVE A MOMENT IN THE DARK, ALONE.
This is the foreboding statement which awaits each audience member of LONE, a new production presented by The Rabble and St Martins youth theatre ensemble.
I came to this production full of anticipation and curiosity, intrigued by the proposition of a work created by The Rabble and eleven young artists between the ages of 8 and 11. The Rabble is a pioneering theatrical group known for creating visually stunning, radical works. The last Rabble production that I saw was JOAN (2017) a searing re-imagining of the story of Joan of Arc. In its exploration of gendered violence this piece saw performers hurl themselves into endurance sequences. There were bodies thrown onto a pyre, a camera looking up skirts, a fire onstage—it was a work of great artistic and technical mastery which fanned the feminist fire in my belly.
I left LONE with a very different, but equally intense, feeling.
LONE is a work of exceptional tenderness, providing adults with a moment of beautiful, melancholy escapism. It is a piece that quietly, deftly pushes each audience member to remember the feeling of being a child and being alone.
It is important to note that this work comprises eleven different pieces, each presented in discrete, isolated spaces in the Arts House. Every audience group that enters the hall will experience something different—separated from your peers from the very beginning, you are designated a number, which corresponds to a room in the space. You must find your room and here you will find a pair of headphones and the aforementioned message.
After reading my note, once the lights dimmed, I entered hut number one. Inside, I found a space carpeted with a thick layer white fluff—like the stuffing of a large teddy bear strewn across the space.
Hidden in this cloud landscape was the performer Remy. A young boy in an orange tracksuit.
This child was immediately evocative of the many classic young, male adventurers of fiction.
Think Will Robinson, Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince.
An intrepid adventurer, full of curiosity and innocence.
Remy’s performance was beautiful and very moving. I watched, transfixed as this little boy explored unknown terrain, carried out little rituals and curled up in the corner when he feared the terrifying creatures in his imagined world.
All the while Emma Valente’s soft eerie lighting and persistent, undulating soundscape kept a suspense through the performance. A sense of threat and sadness subtly woven in.
The construction of the space by Kate Davis, was evocative of the kind of small, hidden places that a child’s imagination can fill and expand. It reminded me of a time when a large cardboard box was a space full of transformative potential. This was a precious, coveted commodity for a child because a simple cardboard box could become a rocket ship, a spy HQ or a reading room. The appeal of these spaces is that they are hidden and private, being alone is the aim, it is privilege to enter such a space.
I certainly felt a sense of intrusion at the beginning of the performance. At one point, Remy looked at me through binoculars—I wasn’t sure if I was being looked at or looked through. This fly-on-the-wall positioning was unsettling, however through the performance—the story told by the performer, the lighting and sound design lulled me out of my cynical, adult brain into a raw and more susceptible frame of mind.
By the end of the performance—when, as warned, I was left alone, in the dark—I felt transformed into my childhood self. All disbelief suspended, my imagination—which for so many of us, lies largely dormant—was activated and I was swept up into a world in the clouds.
This was my journey and no doubt different adventures took place in every one of the eleven spaces in the arts house. However, I have no doubt that I wasn’t the only fully-grown adult who felt a pang of sadness and reluctance upon leaving the world of LONE and returning to reality.