Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A highly entertaining and provocative solo show that addresses our relationship with technology – and each other – in modern society. A barometer for our times.
I have been fortunate enough to see theatre of all styles and languages, in many different countries, but “The Sensemaker” is one of the deftest and most provocative pieces I’ve experienced in a while. Essentially this is a solo performance that addresses our relationship with technology – and increasingly its direct involvement in our lives – whether we like it or not. However, it has much wider resonances, both political and moral. As such it is a barometer for our times.
A bare stage, bar a table with an old fashioned dial telephone – and a chair – are all that performer/maker Elsa Couvreur has for company. We are in an isolated environment where a disembodied mechanical voice issues instructions in response to our protagonist’s unknown request. She has to perform increasingly bizarre tasks to have her wish fulfilled (whatever that is), by turns fragile and courageous, constantly waiting on hold (to “Ode To Joy” played on what seems like a Casio keyboard) for the next command.
Our performer is slight and slender, with bright eyes that are simultaneously curious and alert. They constantly search for the next cue – whether physical or vocal – and are puzzled when the answer is denied or obscure. However the audience is always aware that the performer has a degree of optimism and an acute awareness of her physicality.
The performance centres on brilliant and precise choreography, linked to the sparse text, which incidentally is in several languages. This is a piece that transcends the need for translation. The audience need to merely observe to understand that this is our future – and our past – being played out.
A staccato series of commands sees the woman fulfilling complex choreography commands only to be thwarted by what seems to be a power cut. The lights go out and the sound is silenced. In the darkness we hear her cry for help, only for the power to be restored, with her desperately trying to catch up with the beat. To our relief she does so, but this heartbreaking journey continues, with our accompanying assumption of guilt and responsibility .
To describe or reference more would do a disservice to the performance. Rest assured that this piece strips away all artifice, all dishonesty and presents the audience with a stark moral choice.
This wonderful piece, for me, references many things – the indifference of the Holocaust, the intolerance of modern society and ultimately the doom that we face if we don’t start communicating. It is deep and trenchant, but also wonderfully entertaining. It left me feeling deeply affected and pondering everything that I had seen and heard. I hope and trust that ultimately it will leave you feeling as optimistic as I do about the power of art as a force for change.