Magnetic North's Wild Life explores idea of modern day feral child
Playwright Pamela Carter's play inspired by ‘Wild Boy of Aveyron’
From travelling freak shows to Channel 4’s sensationalistic Bodyshock series, voyeurism has long been a part of human nature, and the internet has only increased the opportunities for pointing and staring at those who stand out somehow from what our ‘civilised’ society calls ‘normal’. While entertainment and a degree of self-reassurance about our normality are certainly factors in our voracious consumption of such shows, playwright Pamela Carter is convinced that it’s not an overly generous view of our motives to suppose that we aren’t at least in part also searching for some truths about the human condition.
It’s an idea that bears further examination in relation to Carter’s latest play, Wild Life, which is being produced by Nicholas Bone’s Magnetic North. She was asked to write something based around the story of Victor, the so-called ‘Wild Boy of Aveyron’ – a feral child who was found and studied by various doctors in the early 1800s in an attempt to reach a definition of humanity. After a series of associative leaps from that starting point, Carter, alighted on the idea of a ‘modern-day wild child’, picked up on and sensationalised by the media in the manner of so many TV shock-docs.
Her protagonists are ‘a very average couple’ who stay at home interacting with the world via TV and the internet. In a plot that plays on that horror-movie desire to be shocked or disgusted while safe within a comfortable home, they start to become obsessed with the idea of a feral child they believe is lurking outside their house. Carter is tight-lipped on the nature or indeed existence of this ‘virtual child’, but we can be sure her new work will play on some very familiar fears, thrills and morbid fascinations.
For full tour schedule see www.magneticnorth.org.uk
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 11 & Sat 12 Mar; Brunton Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 16 Mar. Currently touring throughout Scotland