Creators: Xavier Velastin and Hannah Mook
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
There’s no doubting that Me & My Whale looks perfectly at home down in The Vaults underneath Waterloo station. With the trains rumbling overhead and water dripping down from the dank cavernous ceiling, it does seem as if we have been submerged into the depths of the ocean. But these atmospherics can’t quite make up for the show’s lack of narrative.
A girl goes to sea and finds a whale. It seems that they have a brief love affair, but when, after an eon, the girl goes back, the whale has disappeared. Part environmental protest, and part anti-war tirade, Me & My Whale is an experimental performance where image and noise are more important than story. Performers Xavier Velastin and Hannah Mook, both dressed in white overalls, provide the sights and sounds of this underwater odyssey.
A whale’s eye is creating by adding dye to the water in a bowl sitting on top of a projector. The sound of the whale’s song is made by adding layers of voice to Velastin’s loop pedal. Mook sings the catchy title song and, for a while, despite the abstract nature of the show, everything is rather sweet. The partnership between the two performers really helps here as they grin at each other, almost surprised that everything looks and sounds as it should.
In the last 15 minutes of this 50-minute show the mood changes and the good humour is marred by some kind of apocalypse. It’s here that the show stumbles, and the tone seems juvenile rather than poetic. As the set is dismantled and the torches switched off, you can’t help but wonder what will happen to the plastic sheets they have used. Will they too end up the ocean?
Me & My Whale is based on Velastin’s dissertation project for his MA in music and has been touring on and off for a few months now. As the pair put this whale to bed (literally and figuratively), we will have to wait to see what other landscapes they can conjure out of nothing.
Reviewed on 22 June 2019 | Image: Contributed