Thursday, 13 September 2012

My Shrinking Life (Immediate Response Required)

Dream is not destiny: the body is. There's no escape if nuture triggers the trap nature nutures. He fades in and out of the performance, his own anxiety replacing those faked out in front of the audience and the transmission all the more immediate for the imperfections in its signal.

"What the hell's going on down there, soldier? I can't seem to a fix on a consistent message."

The angel knelt before the Principality and offered a scroll. " She's taking soundings from her interior, sir. The mood and themes are in constant flux and her hope is echoing hollow."

The Principality knows the pattern. It is known in certain circle as The Belgian Fluctuation. In place of the expected and lineal plot, the action shifts from episode to episode. Temporal coherence is sacrificed for a more visceral reaction.

One moment, she is a young woman of perhaps eighteen, her life ahead of her. Then a flicker, a moment's glitch and she's older, reflecting on her ambitions and bitter that she succeeded. The ghost of the 1950s is prowling in her corridors, demanding a physical perfection expressed by the enactment of exact social conventions.

The audience is laughing in that special way, like middle-class Romans chuckling at the humour in a crucifixion. Bad words spluttering inbetween thoughtful monologues, a young man's voice becomes robotic as he observes the specimen.

"Now the word virus has infected him, too. Shit. He always was vulnerable, all that time he spent in Tramway in the last decade." The Principality glanced at the angel and grimaced. "He does this when he can't pin down the meaning to a series of simple statements. He gets the idea he's William Burroughs and sprays the page with random sentences."

The three young people are at the butt end of the party, languid and dreaming of freedom. It's three in the morning, everyone else has gone home and they are left buzzing from the drugs and high their own potential. It's the ultimate irony, the fantasy of youth as the darkness closes in on them. Like a flashback at the end of a horror movie, when the characters, all hacked to pieces by the nameless horror, are seen in happier times.

"Who is responsible for this?" The angel nodded towards the locked door. A single sentence stuck in a groove. "I don't believe in God, but I think there is something.. spiritual."

"Alison Peebles, sir. I don't understand why. She's such a good actor. She could have just gone for Shakespeare or Chekov.

"Someone let Lies Pauwels in, too. It's the fucking Belgian thing. None of this would matter if the bloody critic hadn't decided to join in the fun."

The angel pulled up her dress and revealed her legs. A tattoo on the flesh, five stars in an occult circle. It's never enough to reveal the suffering, it has to be felt. Biology's a bloody science, the details of the hospital, waiting room and operating theatre, hang above the stage. A child tips a pile of medicines and crutches onto the floor. The dancers show off their moves... the world's just a procession of people displaying their ability.

"They are using their ability to walk like a theatre company in the Fringe uses good reviews. It's an implicit warning of superiority."

Ladies and Gentleman, my final guest for the evening needs no introduction. Friend to the soliloquy, companion of the alternative interpretation. Alison Peebles is a national treasure. I once had a fantasy that Scottish theatre could be a mixture of the European love of devising and the English love of a good script. Alison - may I call you Alison? - had reminded us all that is still possible. When the trigger finger twitched, she was neither brave nor tragic. Instead, she was honest. `

My Shrinking Life on tour

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