We’ve all seen those moments when a friend wants to stay in the pub for an inordinate length of time, less for the need to drink than for pure companionship. Matthew Lenton, artistic director of Vanishing Point is looking toward that sense of our simple desire for company to ignite this new improvised piece produced in collaboration with Napoli Teatro Festival Italia.
Lenton takes up the story: ‘It’s about a group of people who meet for a meal, and how they are changed by the events of that evening. By the time the guests leave they learn something about each other and their own lives. To me it tells a simple story about loneliness and people’s need for each other. It’s a very fragile piece of work, like a piece of music, it’s quite gossamer in its quality. I’m hoping it will have a kind of hypnotic feel.’
But there are complex origins to this apparently straightforward piece. ‘It’s inspired by an old play by Maurice Maeterlinck, called Interior, but it’s not by any means a production of that piece,’ Lenton says. It also makes a parallel with Boccaccio’s Decameron, which sees a group of people gather together to tell stories in the time of plague. Yet perhaps the most direct starting point lies in a newspaper story Lenton read a year or so ago. ‘It was about a small town on a Norwegian island in the Arctic Circle. It’s in darkness for three or four months of the year. A resident of the town said that people who survive the darkness were people who were socially active or have friends. People who don’t have friends or try to drink their way through the darkness tend either to go mad or get eaten by polar bears. So that’s a starting point for a piece about friends who meet for that great social activity, eating.’ Bon Appetit.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 3–Sat 11 Apr, then touring