STATIC
Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Unlimited Theatre have garnered a Fringe First for this two-hander, which I saw in a preview performance in London. The title refers both to electronic "white noise" and to the mode of performance: a man and a woman stand more or less rooted to their respective spots, delivering intercut present-tense monologues straight to the audience.

The Woman is evidently one of the many victims of the Balkan catastrophe, as she recounts moving through a ruined village to stand by a mass of bodies, one of them her lover's. The Man is an ordinary young urban Briton, living his undistinguished life until one evening he turns on the television and half-sees reportage of the latest former-Yugoslav atrocity. At this point the connection between the monologues is established: the Woman notices the cameras recording her grief, the Man begins to get an inkling of what she is feeling.

Paul Warwick's direction, and Bridget Escolme's and Jon Spooner's performances, are triumphs of efficient minimalism. However, I find myself suspecting Chris Thorpe's motive in writing such a piece. He cares enough to criticise himself (and us) for not caring enough... but what does that achieve, except to move the mixture of liberal guilt and underlying complacency on to the next level? It is simple, stark, affecting and effective, but the acrid tang of exploitation persists in my nostrils.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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