When I found out this was the show I had to review I wasn’t filled with high expectations.
Reading the words “visual art installation brought to life” didn’t sound my cup of tea. So with expectations tempered considerably I went to watch the performance on Tuesday night with the same vim and vigour as someone who has been set up on a blind date with someone who has a “great personality!”.
The venue was downstairs at The Mac and it is an intimate venue that would seat around 200. While the crowd attending was small in number the two protagonists set about their show with great
gusto. Initially both came on stage with a plank of wood each and joining both either Robbert/Frank climbed to the top and was balanced there by the other. Coming down from this display of agility and grace, the two pieces of wood were then swung horizontally just missing a ducking Frank/Robbert. Maybe this was going to be slapstick comedy, no better man for the job than me!
Next our fearless duo brought out a box with a plaster of paris head sitting on top. One blew in one ear of the head while a balloon appeared out the other side. This was tied and placed between the two original planks of wood which now resided upright at the side of the stage. Now I could hear murmuring and as they opened the box beneath the “head” they produced a wooden microphone and stand which when placed in front of the head started a speech about the window of opportunity and how we waste our lives (heckling was futile at this point).
As the story progressed the set behind was moved accordingly and both performers added more wooden decorations, usually small green pine trees. While one performer lay prone on the stage the other covered him in a white sheet. A toy car was produced and what looked like a blue splat. The lights were dimmed and using a stick and a torch the car was pushed round the stage to simulate being driven round a landscape while the Twin Peaks music played in the background. As the car pulled up to the blue splat the music stopped and we heard car doors and a splash. Coming out of this set piece the blue splat was reversed and was blood red. This was placed next to our prone performer to signify his death I imagine. Next a large log was carted on to stage, maybe as a nod to Twin Peaks again, and this made a noise like radio interference, as various pieces of mdf were attached to it the sound changed and once put in the right order a song started. The log was then set up right and eventually through more manipulation this started speaking, eventually instructing them to “open the box”. Deal or no deal this was not because this was another box with a plaster of paris cow head attached that they had placed hay in front of when they introduced it to the stage, as you do! As one box was lifted and another and another eventually a little wooden house appeared, that began to cry, I know how it felt. One of our performers then nursed it and it subsided.
The weirdness continued with a Dean Martin song and the house being covered in fake snow. At another stage of the show a wooden suit case appeared and when it was set between R&F it opened to show several guns. Robbert or Frank then pointed this at the others head only for his cohort to take a bite out of it. The other then took a bite and shared the rest of the chocolate “gun”with the front row of the audience. I could write another couple of pages on the oddness that abounded for the rest of the show but suffice to say the brochure advised the show would come to an inevitable conclusion but I’m still not sure what it was.
On reviewing this show I would say that I’m still thinking about which must be a good thing but I have no idea what I watched and what the hell it all meant. On exiting the theatre I stepped into a bar for a calming drink and noticed Arsenal were beating Bayern Munich, a truly surreal night!
Ulster Bank Arts Ambassador, Aidan O’Reilly