Cyrus Pundole checks out Cambridge's festival of 'dangerous theatre'
WATCH OUT, the Junction’s festival of out-there theatre, returned on Saturday 26 May and began with Mouthpiece, an enthralling take on the pressures to conform within society’s norms. Two actors, Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, portray the ever-changing dynamics within 30-something writer Cassandra’s head, on the day after she has learned of her mother’s death. Now she must prepare a eulogy.
Sharp, raw, fast dialogue – often spoken together as one – regularly gives way to gestures, dance and an intense physicality, not to mention song and vocal explorations often framed around answer-machine messages from friends and family who don’t know what to say, or do, but say the wrong thing. Complete with unexpected, comedic audience participation, Mouthpiece, which is written by the actors, creates a range of emotions, as the voices inside Cassandra push toward telling people what she really thought of her mother. But she can see the good and the sad in her mother too, as she becomes aware of, and frustrated by, the lack of change from one generation to the next. A tremendous, near-astonishing performance of feminist theatre that should chime with everyone.
Roxanne Carney’s I’m the Hero of This Story uses the main events of her life so far (we learn she was born in 1992) as a framework to appreciate why millennials have to carry the baggage society puts on them, and why it shouldn’t be so. With alcopops downed and spilt for laughs and sadness in equal measure as part of a ‘this is what it’s like on a night out in Essex’ segment, and avocados stuffed in a telling, pointless, property-ladder critique, Carney makes both subtle and direct observations about her own generation.
Anna Brownsted’s My Vinyl Ate your MP3s was a free-flowing participation debate to select Cambridge’s pick of the top hits from 1977 till now. 41 years ago a golden record was sent into space, containing music from around the world, but Anna wanted to know what would go on such a record if it was launched in 2018. The aim was, once the audience had suggested around 30 candidates for space immortality, to whittle them down to just five. Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 missed out, with Purple Rain, Let’s Dance, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Thriller and Crazy in Love set for an imaginary blast-off.
The prospect of a western-only English-language list produced a few interesting questions and thoughts, before the audience went for what it knew best.
Long may WATCH OUT continue with its annual selection box of new theatre.