The Object Lesson, Summerhall (Tech Cube), Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Aurora Nova present Geoff Sobelle
David Neumann (director), Geoff Sobelle (creator), Steven Dufala (scenic installation design), Christopher Kuhl (lighting design), Nick Kourtides (sound design), Steve Cuiffo (illusion consultant), Tara Webb (costumes), Jecca Barry (producer).
Geoff Sobelle.
Running time

“At the end, all that's left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that's why I've never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that's why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived.”
― from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

This is no ordinary theatre, there’s no stage, no rows of seats, just...stuff. The audience is encouraged to explore what seems to be a storage unit full of possessions. These are boxed in the way one does when moving house, objects grouped in hopefully logical ways with memory-jogging inscriptions - “Stuff for walking”, “Winter”, “Lost Socks” and more than one “Faith”. Do we put faith in objects?

Just as people are becoming comfortable with their surroundings and settling onto packing case stools, they are shunted aside as a man unpacks a small domestic set; a chair, rug, gramophone, house plant, side tables and weirdly working table lamps. Seemingly a little puzzled by what has brought him to this point, he dictates notes to himself, breaking each thing down to find what is going on.

He appears to have become a bit of a hermit, searching for spiritual connections through objects associated with his past. Perhaps what’s missing, what he is really looking for, is a person?

As he clambers amongst boxes he takes us on a hunt, digging up treasured memories of finding himself. There are witty scenes using a clever trick of re-interpreting and reverse engineering recorded live conversations. Interactions with audience members recreate a surreal romantic dinner with ice skating and also offers the opportunity to think about the stuff that we all carry around.

As he conjures up his future life in objects we see how we compartmentalise our lives and deal with an unrelenting list of needs.

The ingenious staging allows the production to flow and practical lamps, radios and telephones providing a soundscape to back the action. There are a few sections which last slightly too long and some where not enough happens, slowing the pace and allowing the enchantment to dissipate.

It's a production that comes down to watching a man rooting through boxes. It shouldn’t work, but there is something gentle, warm, human, absurd and whimsical about the whole experience that transforms it from junk into a larger meditation on what we need in life.

Show Times: 1 - 24 August 2014 (not, 6, 13, 20) at 6pm.

Ticket Prices: £14 (£12)

Suitability: 12+