[Insert Slogan Here] review at Zoo Charteris, Edinburgh – ‘intimate, if opaque’
As a child Sam Ward was so entranced by a Volvo commercial that he wrote to the company asking if he could be in its next one. Now he attempts to recreate that ad on stage, using a series of boxes and LED tea-lights.
Ward uses similar techniques to his previous show Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist. He invites people to join him on stage to complete small tasks and as they do he talks to them. His tender manner, his warmth and encouragement, make people open up. They answer his questions about whether or not they consider themselves “cool”, about what the idea of home means to them, with care – they give themselves to him in a way that momentarily made me question if it was scripted. He takes their candid answers and turns them into material.
These exchanges with the audience are interspersed with spoken word sections performed to a backdrop of video by Conan the Librarian and live music by Ola Rae.
In the end the piece’s power comes not from what it says about adverts and the feelings they can generate, or about the wish to feel cherished, comfortable and content – it has a certain opacity as a piece, it resists making statements. Rather, you remember Ward’s power to connect with an audience, to make them part of his work, to hold and enfold them.
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