As You Are Now So Once Were We@ The Project Art’s Centre

September 14, 2010


Theatrical tetris meets theatrical tweeting in As You Are Now So Once Were We the new show from last years Spirit of the Fringe winners The Company. To be honest it’s not my bag. In fact every fibre of my being was shouting at me to hate it. But I didn’t. And I’m still not fully sure why. Why I wanted to hate it or why I did not.

Perhaps it was the four exceedingly watchable performers Brian Bennett, Robert McDermott, Tanya Wilson & Nyree Yergainharsian. There was the innovative choreography and production design, where stacked cardboard boxes were moved about the stage as if involved in a graceful dance, and a competent stab at showing the pedantic events of a single day, a la Ulysses, through the four differing perspectives of members of the micro blogging generation, (who converse through facebookspeak). Their use of repetition and soliloquy heighten the metatheatricality of the show and the performances are so deliberately over the top and self-conscious it felt like they were feeding off of our reactions rather than informing them.

As heartening as it was to see a young company challenging traditional forms and conceptions. it is a pity they can’t take the emphasis of themselves and onto their ideas where they belong. Their constant self-awareness  hampered my enjoyment of the piece and limited the effect of whatever comment they were trying to make about the world we now inhabit. The in jokes, the self aggrandizing, the tortured breaking from what little plot we had to indulge in a painful round of Simon Says  undercut their ideas on self delusion,  memory and daily ritual and the effect they have on personal perception while it also overshadowed their fantastic movement and facial dexterity.

As You Are Now So Once Were We is brimming with strong ideas, expelled into being and abandoned before they can take on any real form or worth. And perhaps that’s their point. In a world where people fart out their thoughts in 140 characters or less, helping inform and shape the news cycle, this may be an appropriate theatrical response. But as stimulating and innovative as it can be it is also deeply irritating and unfulfilling.

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