Do I Mean Anything to You or Am I Just Passing By?
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, run ended
Urban alienation is something so familiar to contemporary experience that we seldom even notice it these days. Yet when in manifests itself in art, there’s something compelling about a close focus on single voices articulating the dilemma of their own atomisation, with loneliness and the retreat into subjectivity often manifesting an unconscious need for intimacy. Gerard McInulty’s production for Twelve Star, which is accompanied by effective, if low key music by indy band The Pastels explores this territory fascinatingly.
In it, four ostensibly characters recite interior monologues of people living in a city, each manifesting forms of everyday obsession and neurosis. A film plays, showing the view of some city street from the window of what looks like a bar, with people, including the some of characters we meet passing and occasionally stopping to peer in, as if they see someone they know, but can’t or won’t make contact through the glass. Each monologue is uttered in a deliberately flattened out style, somewhat like in the films of Hal Hartley, and they’re performed in a stylised but very effective manner by the actors. Carolyn Allen’s monologue, which explores a woman who goes dancing and tries to ignore slurs on her character by those around her and Susan Swanwick’s tale of a girl in debt are particularly haunting. If the portmanteau feel of the piece seems at times to need organic wholeness and there’s something of a work in progress feel, this is still an effective night of theatre.