Director: Richard Gregory
Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin
On a sunny evening in Salford, the sun rises on a blank warehouse space, and the bubbly song ‘Mr Blue Skies’ sings out. Summer is here. A show featuring a 30-plus strong cast of people from different walks of life, from toddlers to pensioners, performing tasks and letting us glimpse into their lives. They watch us as we watch them. A screen in front of the audience informs us of our instructions (‘Try to make sense of it all’) while a screen behind us delivers instructions to the cast.
We meet Christina, she never speaks and yet we are told she likes to shower, we see her dance to her song for summer, and know that she is worried – she is mortgaging her life for her career. Then she is gone. Disappeared among the surging crowd in the space. They walk, they stop, they run, chaos hits as they dance, run, destroy and create. Like a train station in rush hour, it’s people-watching made theatre as we guess their stories, thoughts, and how their lives intersect.
This show is a delicate exploration of life, our interactions with others, and the snatches of a conversation had or heard with a stranger. It is also messy and disorganised; the young children throwing a constant spanner into the works (this show features the most adorable little girl you’ve ever seen on stage!) as they refuse to abide the instructions given. And moments that go awry; the collapsing chair at the back of the stage followed by suppressed giggles and concern.
The intimate moments in which a question is asked which reveal more about a person; we learn Jason is an only child now, and Sam would like to have more time to daydream. Quarantine’s use of non-performers mixed with performers creates a sense of fragility, a feeling that the performance is teetering on the edge of self-destruction yet never actually nearing it at all.
There is a knowingness to this production, a challenge to the concept of theatre and truth. Are they just performing or is this real? Yet aren’t we all performers in our everyday lives, performing rôles as they fit us; worker, mother, lover, friend? As John Lennon famously said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. In this case, life, like this show, is precious and changeable, and happens in the moments among the madness. Tomorrow will reveal something else, or offer up another gift, or take another surprising turn.
Photo: Gavin Parry | Runs until 14 June 2014