What do we share with each other? Even those who are as radically different from us as we can imagine? In this poised and experimental new piece, performer and live artist Greg Wohead poses these questions, drawing on a real conversation he had with an ex-partner and an Amish couple in Illinois 10 years ago,
Sitting around a large table, he and his fellow performers Tim Bromage, Mireya Lucio and Amelia Stubberfield trade the roles of the participants in that conversation between them.
The slim, 70-minute show, presented as part of the Now 19 season of experimental new work at the Yard, takes the form of a mixture of improvisation and prepared moments that are prompted by cue cards produced at each role swap. These allow for Wohead to examine the remembered “scene” with a wistful focus.
The four pliant participants don’t attempt to “act” these roles, whether repeating an Amish anecdote about a horse auction or recreating a goodbye with lingering looks in a reference to the film Witness.
Dan Saggars’ lighting design is warm and autumnal, making for a gentle but eerie atmosphere enhanced by Maxwell Sterling and Ben Babbitt’s ambient scoring, a looping, distorted sampling of Time After Time.
Wohead’s sensitive exploration of the way we grasp at understanding and seeing each other truthfully are realised through poetic narration and a disarming approach to form, but the piece feels a little too careful – it keeps us at arm’s length and is interesting, rather than affecting.
A greater sense of play would be beneficial – the weirder moments help us appreciate the method here. This is a show in need of a push: out of the sphere of the cerebral, perhaps, and more firmly into the silly.