Brighton Fringe 2011
Written and performed by Dan Milne and Jane Nash, with direction by Alex Perrin. Dan and Jane are London based artists who have been working in theatre and television for 20 years. This hour long piece is site specific and has taken place in various kitchens throughout the country.
A play on intimacy as real as life….or is it as unreal as life? When does life have unreal qualities? What is the real and what is the unreal? Who are we when we are finding meaning through connections to the other?
The play takes place in a real kitchen, in a real Brighton house. It has been performed in this way all round the country since 2009. As the audience enter the house a man and a woman can be seen staring into the distance through the front windows. As we are shown to our kitchen seats we view their motionless bodies from behind in silhouette. A pop song is playing. In time the pop song fades and birdsong can be heard. The woman gasps, the first sound to come from our two actors. She looks around the kitchen, touching things, examining, seemingly astonished to find herself in this place, as though she has just awoken from hibernation. As she turns on a table lamp throwing more light into the kitchen, the man gasps and he too is seemingly astonished to find himself in this place. They find each other and kiss. What follows from this beginning is that they gradually find a narrative together which explains why they are there, in togetherness. They create stories, imagistically imagined before our very eyes. Tales of synchronicities, the special significance of everyday and random objects in the vicissitudes of fate mirror our own memories of our own lives as the web the players are spinning draws us, the audience, in.
But as each new detail emerges in this collage of life a question seems to be always burning in the background. Is this really happening? Billed as “a play on intimacy as real as life” but could equally be “a play on intimacy as unreal as life”. For when we are submerged in a relationship where do we really begin and the other person end? Have we found our identity through union with this other person and what are we without them? This is suggested in various ways including and ingenious device of collaging the two players voices in counterpoint, harmony and crossover where we wonder who is making the meaning, or even if a third hidden factor is involved in meaning making. This for me seemed to be the crux of the issue and lends the piece a beautiful level of background surreality, not overdone but simple and permeating.
A thought provoking account of the mythology that we create as couples coming together, the union to which we aspire or do not aspire to, the relative success of this union, or the catastrophe that fate leads us to through our own mythologizing. A variety of outcomes are explored so that the audience is always situated in the midst of the becoming and always possible. There is a specific musical quality to this piece very much created by the two actors who are now in dissonance, now in harmony or alternating in straight rhythm and syncopation, but always tighly fitting and highly crafted and never feeling like lazy improvisation or ‘note spinning’. Rather the feeling is of a magnificent if unorthodox fugue which gradually emerges throughout the hour long piece.
This is gripping, thought provoking and beautiful theatre, using a minimum of means but a maximum of expressive intent. Outstanding and original work.