This particular representation of Jelinek’s iconic script was not a full production, it was a script reading. I did not know it was going to be a simple reading before going and I was kind of disappointed when I found out.
When I entered the Soho Theatre’s upstairs space I was instantly smiling, there was a big mound of cotton in the middle of the space and spectators were invited to lay and relax in the ‘fluff’. YES! A truly comfortable seat! The reading was going to last 6 hours with no breaks so having a relaxed atmosphere and loads of cotton to surround myself in was a very good idea. Although it was not integral to the script itself, and cleverly called ‘fluff’ in the programme, the ‘fluff’ really manipulated my mood and thereby manipulated how I was going to perceive the reading.
The reading was simple and elegant. Actors were spread in various places around the space, it was all very relaxed at points yet real care was put into the readings themselves. Well directed chorus moments were powerful and interesting. Although it was apparent that maybe the reading was a bit over rehearsed as a lot of ‘indicating’ and ‘reading cliches’ were coming through the performances; distorting my spectatorship to the subjectivies inherent to the text.
I found it confusing that the director ensured that the performers were actively trying to make eye contact with the spectators. Is what I am watching supposed to be a piece of theatre or a performance event? Is the piece supposed to activate my imagination and philosophic understandings of the rigor in the text via a performance I create in my own head? Or am I supposed to be watching the readers portal of everything and mentally stay in the room?
I chose to do both at different points and I found the reading and the words much more interesting than the portrayals. Saying that, there were some beautiful moments when the reading was stopped by something that happened in the space and a ‘forced reality’ occurred, shot-gunning me back to the reality of the situation.
The temporalities being played with were also very interesting. For example, a person entered the space at one point to tell us about the actual Olympic volleyball scores in a non English language. After he left, one of the readers broke the invisible walls, and said “ehhh, I didn’t catch that- what’d he say?” and then the readers had a laugh and talked amongst themselves as people. When that moment occurred I felt as close to the readers as I feel towards my best friends, and it occurred to me that I was in a room with a handful of people that are extremely passionate about the theatre, performance, philosophy and art. I was proud to be in the space with these people enjoying a wonderful piece of text. We were not manipulated by the sports in London that day, we enjoyed time together enjoying art. It was a beautiful and profound moment.I will keep an eye out for anything that JustaMust does in the future and you should to!
Performed at the Soho Theatre.