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Manchester theatre reviews

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Part of Push2018

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018


Manchester-based award winning theatre company Yesyesnono premiered their newest work this evening at HOME as part of their PUSH Festival.


It was an hour-long presentation - I hesitate to call it a play, and wonder further even how to classify it. Theatre it might have been, but impossible to 'pigeon-hole' - we were presented with music, video footage, monologues and audience interaction concerning the building of a car.


The whole may well have been a very clever and deep allegory for how we live our own lives and how we THINK we live them. Certainly the metaphor of building a customised car to our own ideas and specifications and then imagining how that would feel if transferred in human terms was an interesting one; and the secondary metaphor of magpies, a little underdeveloped, but clever also.


The performance however came across as very self-indulgent and egotistic on the part of the narrator / actor / solo performer (I think he said his name was Sam, but without programme or other information I cannot be certain). He started the play dancing in nothing more than a pair of boxer shorts, and then used a rather conciliatory and condescending tone when asking for audience volunteers, and asking them rather personal questions. I was surprised that the three audience members were happy to supply and chat the way they did, which made me cringe a little. It would have been rather a shame and a completely different show had the three volunteers not wanted to talk about their first kiss or other questions posed.


The stage was set to look like the interior of a small industrial unit. The back of the stage was a rollershutter door, closed, and two large plastic desks with computers and other gubbins were laid out either side with a large pile of cardboard boxes in the centre. The desks were inhabited for the duration by the musician and the video operator, and the boxes were to make the car with.


The video projections were on the back wall and partially covered the rollershutter which was never used or referenced. In other words, the set was irrelevant and could have been or maybe should have been presented without any set at all, just black walls. The video footage itself never really seemed to be in harmony with Sam's narrations. Were they his memories or was it all just an act? I do believe that the footage he showed was of him as a young boy on the beach.


I find this type of experimental theatre, where abstract thoughts and a naturalistic un-acted presentation combine with technology, rather incoherent and incomprehensible, however, I do also believe that underneath all the pretension there was something rather worthy waiting to be discovered. The one phrase I took from all of this, which might be worth exploring in itself a little more perhaps was, "Sometimes the moments that never happen, matter the most".

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