IF {CIVILISATION SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLES THE GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL INFRASTRUCTURE} AND {THE SOONER IT COMES DOWN THE MORE LIFE WILL BE LEFT} THEN…

Thu 9th – Fri 24th August 2018

reviews

Ella Kemp

at 09:33 on 17th Aug 2018

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I don’t know where to begin. I can’t retell the name of the show, or say the characters’ names. I cannot remember any quotes and I don’t think I understood enough. So I’m going to try and list what I did absorb and reckon with, in case you might have a better idea.

Two men standing at opposite ends of a room. One of them has a Swedish accent. A lucid, lengthy monologue - I think it’s about civilisation. Its downfall or the possibility of any potential survival? They eat an apple, pips and all, voraciously. A large inflatable device is inflated. We wait. They both storm into the device, tearing the plastic and collapsing onto each other.

A signposted guidebook explanation on civilisation. Can it be helped? Can we be helped? A rose is stuffed up someone’s nose. One of the five audience members leaves. Sainsbury’s bags ductaped to the strip lights above are ripped off. The man dressed in black has to stand on the Swedish man’s shoulders to reach it.

In the derelict Room 5 of Bar Bados, hidden somewhere in Cowgate, this show exists in its own realm where civilisation is a concept that can be twisted, tossed about and taunted into oblivion, without providing anything to latch onto. The written synopsis is clinically simple, the performance is baffling and frustrating. It doesn’t make sense - I don’t know if I was being mocked or I was mocking them.

Writing suggestions on their two opposing pieces of paper - what is civilised, and what is non-civilised, I felt cheated that these two performers were now asking me to do such a straightforward thing. I wrote that table manners were civilised. Waiting before you cross the road is civilised. Sex is non-civilised. I don’t know what this show is.

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Rowan Evans

at 10:20 on 17th Aug 2018

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If the name is anything to go by, ‘IF {CIVILISATION SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLES THE GLOBAL ECOLOGOICAL INFRASTRUCTURE} AND {THE SOONER IT COMES DOWN THE MORE LIFE WILL BE LEFT} THEN…’ sounds like a bloated mess. Hell, it has made my review look a mess just by typing it out in full.

But what the production lacked in marketing skills, was made up for by the sheer ride of confusion they took the four-strong audience on. There were twists around every corner as two men acted out a hellish nightmare sequence of environmentalism and the downfall of civilisation.

The show, in a more objective sense, was bad. But it was the kind of bad which draws you into its endless spiral of badness, never ceasing to surprise with what bad thing would happen next.

It took the form of a series of vignettes, each exploring a set of linked themes. I would have expected these to flow better into each-other - things felt clunky when one of them would reach to switch over the music or walk over to close the door - but this did not affect the production so much.

It began with an ominous speech, detailing the fall of civilisation,

and delivered with real conviction by the also ominous Josh. What followed was weird, to say the least.

To give a quick sampler: it involved the two men sharing an apple (core and all); one pretending to be a toilet while the other pretending to use it; Axl sticking a rose up his nose; the pair embracing for an uncomfortable amount of time; taking shoes off and moisturising feet. And this isn't even scratching the surface.

One of the best moments was the wordless blowing up of a mass of tarpaulin for at least five wordless minutes. This silence was then broken by the two performers running at the inflatable and disappearing into it, being consumed by its depth.

The show was short, but this suited it well. It stopped it dragging, and meant I never felt bored. In fact, what I experienced was the opposite of being bored. It was a much-deserved morbid curiosity that I am glad to have witnessed.

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