Vanishing Point theatre company weaves dark and dreamlike stories out of the ordinary happenings of daily life. Like a lot of us, they were apparently frustrated watching performances that were just like watching the telly, leaving dormant the opportunities of experience contained within live theatre. Vanishing Point instead makes productions that are very much about being there, live and in the moment.
Sitting facing the set while the rest of the packed audience clattered in was like staring at a zoomed-in photograph of the interior of someone’s flat. Behind a sheet of glass were three brightly lit rooms with a figure sitting motionless in the room upstairs. There was a bubbling sense of anticipation as the nosy-neighbour lurking in all of us began to rear its indiscreet head: we were, after all, about to voyeuristically observe the place where social conventions are left at the door, the very private heart of someone’s home.
The experience was actually more like going inside someone’s head and sharing their dreams. When the image stirred into action with characters coming and going, we saw their mouths move but, just as in a dream, there was only the language of movement and events, the spoken word was never heard. In its place a sound track, visualised on occasion through a projection screen that also formed the outer roof, provided the sounds of the radio, the television, a guitar being tuned, other unidentifiable noises and silences.
As in a dream, there were random, unexplained non-sequitors of events that mingled with beautifully observed moments of the ordinary and everyday: who is wiping what on the towel in the bathroom and who will have to use it next; darker moments; bizarre neighbours; chimpanzees and spacemen and a couple having baked beans for tea.
Like trying to describe a dream, the individual actions that could be pieced together to form a narrative wasn’t what this was about. A dream is about the subconscious story just beyond the reach of articulation that therefore cannot be explained, yet its emotional hue lingers with feelings of unease, joy etc. and their source lies always just beyond reach. So it was with this.
So what was this about? Well that is up to you. Vanishing Point say they don’t know, that it is not about anything, it is intuitive not intellectual. This is a refreshing relief from the pressure usually felt to understand the ‘right’ meaning in a given piece. The freedom from the necessity of interpretation enabled this performance to immerse you within it which created a thrill of pure experience. A rare and brilliant composition executed with perfection.
The Future was at The Traverse 29-30 October, 2011