Template For Lack Of Conversation, The

Thu 2nd – Sat 18th August 2012


Sara Pridgeon

at 07:21 on 11th Aug 2012



Alison Trower begins her one-woman show with a song, crescendoing her way through “Dem Bones”. As the final audience members trickle in, she asks us to outline a picture of her and wonders how she can reach us, how we can discover who we are. The forty five minutes that follow are much the same – a disjointed collection of anecdotes and stories, advice and lectures. It’s up to us, she says, to connect the pieces, to make something meaningful. While she aims to present a show that is profound, thought-provoking and lingering, she is not entirely successful. It is an interesting way to spend a lunch hour, and Trower is certainly likeable, but this performance piece does not provoke the new sparks of understanding that it would wish. Perhaps these will develop with time and further consideration – for my part, though, I think not.

The pieces that make up Trower’s show are for the most part random, although they are all enjoyable. She relies heavily on audience participation – fitting, as she seems to be interested in conversation, in how people (strangers, especially) interact – by inviting us to sing songs, play games (such as Jelly Baby Snap), and asking for the answers to pseudo-scientific questions. As such, being a willing participant is important; it also means that 'The Template for Lack of Conversation' has the potential to be highly varied every day. She reiterates throughout the show that change is the only thing that we can be sure of; here, she samples from other works and sayings, such as “you can never step in the same river twice”. For me, one of the strongest ideas that Trower presents is the idea that we all live in a relatively safe, controlled bubble, that the comforts of today are owed to the generations past (this, she says, is why she likes visiting cemeteries – so that she can celebrate those who went before).

Trower ends her show with a ten-minute free period, in which we are invited to share any of our own experiences, our own stories. It is an apt way to finish the experience, because the entire performance seems perhaps better suited to a casual conversation between friends, or strangers, in a café. Still, it’s an interesting journey, even if its destination is unclear.


April Elisabeth Pierce

at 08:58 on 11th Aug 2012



As a one-woman act, Alison Trower cut a small but arresting niche for herself in her imaginative and lucid prose performance of 'The Template for a Lack of Conversation'. Part TED-style lecture mash-up, part confessional, part storytelling, this show felt a bit like listening in on the best parts of an intelligent rant - the kind of monologue you might expect to pick up accidentally from a coffee shop denizen. Trower certainly had an engaging range of thoughts to impart and she managed to deliver a stimulating smorgasbord of ideas.

The cozy space at the Edinburgh City Football Club was the ideal setting for Trower’s whimsical piece. Dressed as a self-proclaimed “personal physician” (white lab coat, short hair), Trower didn’t stand once. She sat calmly in her chair and talked. Her topic of choice ranged from pseudoscientific theories of energy to the value of appreciating the luxuries of life (“it’s really only our generation that’s had it this good”). She had a distinct appreciation of life experience, and appealed to sensual description for philosophical illustrations.

A number of humorous audience-oriented experiments added flavour to the afternoon. Trower invited the audience to reenact the moment of “being the winning sperm”, for example, and spontaneously led a quick game of “jelly baby snap”. Without a road map through the stories and experiments (although we were told we could make one) the presentations seemed a bit aimless at times. Subjective and objective segments were interchangeable, and there were no transitions whatsoever guiding the experience.

If you’re interested in one woman’s rumination on everything from consciousness to anatomy, and are willing to travel the bunny trails of her thought, this might be just the performance for you. Be forewarned that you’ll be asked to approximate the weight of faeces, will hear puzzling statements such as “thinking ahead makes me feel clean” and will almost certainly be asked to sing aloud. These inconveniences aside, ;The Template for a Lack of Conversation' is a fascinating, exploratory approach to the one-woman act.


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