This show feels like waking up halfway through an argument between a millennial and a baby boomer only to realise that not only is it still a dream, they’re both speaking Portuguese, a language that you, to your shame, have never learnt. One of them is also possibly a robot. But, surprisingly, it’s not an unpleasant feeling.
Co-created by Natasha Nixon and Marcelo Dos Santos, Trigger Warning headlines Camden People’s Theatre’s Handle With Care season. Those who take offence at the non sequitur posing as political theatre might prefer to retreat fast.
We’re ostensibly watching the content warning for a play entitled Hope – a four-letter sign is above the door, in case we forget why we’re being observed by two performers dressed as flight attendants.
Daniel Hay-Gordon delights as a hilarious, subservient, sweat-beaded clown. His precise movements are as satisfying as peeling a label off in one go. Kath Duggan plays her host wide-eyed, motoring through ridiculous “bad taste” warnings with the gusto of an enthusiastic supply teacher. As incongruity overflows, the red blocks containing old telephones in Lily Arnold’s monochromatic design cast stark shadows.
While absurdity shines through the vivid physical performances, it misses its target. Theatre can’t always offer answers, but Trigger Warning doesn’t pose any questions of its subject either.
Poking at the sacredness of emotion in theatre feels daring, but in its abstraction and fragmentation, the show barely breaches the ideas (of vulnerability and safety) essential to examine and understand trigger warnings.