Writer: Quote Unquote Collective
Reviewer: Chloe St George
At the core of Mouthpiece is a woman struggling to find her own voice. Even when, ostensibly, no-one else threatens to drown her out, silence her, or put words in her mouth, an internal conflict dominates. A symbolic microphone is kept forever out of reach and voices become trapped inside claustrophobic humming.
Cassandra is trying to write a eulogy for her late mother. But every choice of words seems to be compromising something. Even once you find the perfect words, will anyone hear them? For each secondary character in Mouthpiece, it is their distinctive voice that defines them, even before the content of what they say registers.
Mouthpiece strikes many a fine balance, straddling potential contradictions. Characters are oppressed by the limitations of their voices, while the performers run through a veritable variety show of their own voices. Performances are often delicate and poised, yet always ready to burst at the seams. Creators and performers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava share an intimacy with each other’s bodies, but which never risks (over) sexualising them. There is a purity and primitivity to their use of voice in harmony and dissonance, yet the piece also considers the voice as a social object. It is a show which feels unexpected at every twist and turn, even though the reality it narrates is the one surrounding us. This reality is often, frankly, ridiculous.
Nostbakken and Sadava are mighty performers. The depths of Nostbakken’s vocals are stunning, and it comes as no surprise that the pair’s background in physical theatre has led to collaborations with Punchdrunk and Theatre Ad Infinitum. A segment of audience participation does feel a little redundant, and un-nuanced, admittedly, but overall this is a ferocious and slick piece of performance art.
Runs until 27 August 2017 | Image: Brooke Wedlock