Lyric Theatre Hammersmith
Where: Outer London
23 April 2009 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Anyone who saw State of Emergency at the Gate last year will feel a slight sense of déjà vu about the staging of Glasgow-based company Vanishing Point's latest show Interiors. Here, as then, glass panes sit between actors and audience, creating a very literal fourth wall. The major difference is that Interiors is a dumb-show, and all the more powerful for it.
The barrier gives one an eerie sense of voyeurism and detachment, more usually associated with watching a screen. The characters, who gather for a mid-winter dinner, become experiments in a laboratory, the only sound that of a ghostly omniscient narrator and Alasdair Macrae's thrumming, haunting soundscape. Only once does sound cross the diagetic divide, when we hear an on-stage stereo blasting out a series of pop songs - the dreaded 'party mix'.
The setting for this party is non-specific. The participants traipse through snow armed with guns to fend off animal attacks, so suffice to say it's somewhere near the arctic circle. They've gathered on the longest night of the year for an annual party hosted by Andrew (Andrew Melville), a lonely but doting grandfather with a fondness for making toasts and dancing for his meat stew. As the disparate group arrive, each in turn reveal their hidden doubts, frustrations and desires, from Andrew's teenage granddaughter yearning for sexual intimacy with a handsome young guest to a middle-aged man hopelessy trying to seduce his companion by singing along to "Video Killed the Radio Star".
It's both very funny and at times also very moving. One is occasionally struck so forcibly by the play's rather depressing central theme - the transient nature of existence - that it becomes almost difficult to watch. It's rather trance-inducing, the spell only broken by odd moments of unnecessary clowning. The delight lies in the simple familiarity of it all (such as observing the timeless awkwardness of a handshake) and one realises that it's with these occasional gatherings that most of us measure out our lives.
Matthew Lenton orchestrates the multimedia elements beautifully, and if only the story unfolding behind the glass had a bit more meat and built to a more satisfying dénouement, Interiors would be brilliant. But as it stands, a rather gentle meditation on the frustration of existence and mortality is not quite enough to convince me that the obvious potential of this piece and the international company performing it has been reached.
- Theo Bosanquet
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