‘A Game of You’. & CONTEMPORARY LOVE (—a fragment). …

*at the Traverse Theatre for Ontoerend Goed’s ‘A Game of You’. …

 

I’d seen some of their other work, & so I knew that the company has form (so to) for being somewhat… confrontational,… uncompromising & very personal in their work, deliberately courting controversy (wherever possible).

‘A Game of You’, in which audience members are led—individually (one-by-one)—through a small & intimate maze of red-curtained, mirrored spaces, engaged in conversation by performers (posed-posing as ol’ Joe Q Public), surreptitiously observed & described (—by other, unseen, audience members), mimicked, interviewed, & (finally) parodied, surprised me in being far gentler in its stakes & execution than I had been expecting. …

*The portrait built(-up) of you through your interactions with each space-stage, the performers, & the description (—the ‘game’…) you are obliged to make of an incoming audience member—presented to you by a performer from the company, who performs you *to* you at the end of your show—is odd, both in its somewhat unsettling accuracy, & yet also in its inaccuracy.—It serves to show the weird stakes at play in the ways in which you present yourself through the limited avenues & time available to you in any given social-formal/informal context *(& all that you over-emphasise, hold back, fail to articulate, over-articulate … —all that is misrepresented, or simply lost—in anxiety, silence, reserve, or accidental but ineluctable misdirection. … ).

*At the very end of the show, you are handed a CD (recording) bearing the description of you by a previous audience member . …

*I am ‘Dave’, … who works in the arts (perhaps possibly tea-ching?),… —a ‘liberal’ (arts) job (—definitely not, like,  in a bank) of some kind, at which I am probably quite good. I am not unattractive (?), and have a girlfriend with whom I will have a relationship for six years. …

 

 

*CONTEMPORARY LOVE (—a fragment). …

 

walking away from the theatre. …

 

along Princes St. … —the thinning-depleted (in quantity and in energy) fringe crowds, and, strangely (—strangely early, or so it seemed), the drifting, drunken (sodden), irresolute dregs of-from those loud (pulse), gaudy, neon George St. bars (—drinking crowds). …

 

—and all meet, and mingle-merge in-at-along that harrowed strand (line) of the central thoroughfare. …

 

*a nervy, unsettled, cool evening… —crowds hum and gibber (as ever-always), but the hum-gibber is tired-reluctant (…—frayed slight) now. …

 

—three—carbon copy—“young men” (the quintessence of)… short, cropped, gelled hair, bright tee-shirts, jeans,… —over against the wall of the graveyard (terrace). … cheering (yell)—incoherent,-confrontational. … —one whoops (to whoop) and hollers, as (while) he pisses openly into an overflowing waste bin (waste).

 

*—a dumb, obnoxious, cheap booze addled night-evening (late) in the city. …

 

 

 

 

—a couple. (—?). … —young. (bottled?) blonde , slightly plump, but very pretty young woman. (black leather jacket.—smart, but casual evening wear (—a top and jeans). …

 

—walking along (fumble-tottering),—in awkward arm-in-arm—strange fawning-groping (groped) embrace,—with a strange, gangly, unattractive young man (—unfashionable short, combed-forward—“bowl”—hair, angular-ungainly glasses, dated and incongruous dark-blue leather jacket (—white-and-red stripes on the sleeves. … ),… —obviously quite drunk. …

 

… —a strange,… —an odd couple (—are they-were they a couple… —?) —an unbelievably lucky, drunken “pick-up”, by a chap who knew (-felt—desperately) he was punching far-way above his weight (beyond his class) (so to), perhaps. … —?).

 

and,—opposite the Castle, (…) —he pushed her (clumsily, with a seeming—ineffectual—aggression-assertion) into-against the doorway of a shop-front. and grabbed-clutched clumsily—unpleasantly—at her face (a light vice-like), pushing over (down) into her. …

 

—a strange exchange. … —(her) pushing back (protesting) against him, but without (seeming) conviction (seeming),… —uncomfortable, and protesting, but somehow less than half-hearted (somehow). …

 

(talk. talking-conversing. —low, inarticulate,-inaudible. a… —disagreement (of some sort). … (—?). ).

 

 

something… crude,… —ugly-clumsy (sad?)… forced (aggressive.—assault?) in the way he relates to her,—the way he seems (-appears) to be-have been cornering her. …

*(—a young man—raped-assaulted, in the Kirkyard,… —(only) the night before. … ).

 

and so we stopped,-turned back, and to ask her—to make sure that she was alright.

 

and we asked her…

 

 

and she stared—blankly—over in our direction. … —a tired, watery, empty stare, unseeing, without focussed, or registering the question (asked), or even our existence-presence. …

 

and kissed the awkward, gangly, ugly young man. … —a half-hearted, lifeless, inarticulate kiss. …

 

 

was she about to be assaulted-being coerced… —? (—was  he forcing himself on her—? … ).

 

… —?

 

—no real, meaningful way to tell (—to intervene) on a cool, dumb, obnoxious night in the city. …

 

and they staggered away together, in a clumsy, unattractive embrace (of sorts).

 

 

 

 

***

 

At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives

Homeward, and brings the sailor home from the sea,

The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights

Her stove, and lays out food I tins.

Out of the window perilously spread

Her drying combinations touched the sun’s last rays,

On the divan are piled (at night her bed)

Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.

[…]

He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,

A small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,

One of the low on whom assurance sits

As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.

The time is now propitious, as he guesses,

The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,

Endeavours to engage her in caresses

Which still are unreproved, if undesired,

Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;

Exploring hands encounter no defence;

His vanity requires no response,

And makes a welcome of indifference.

[…]

Bestows one final patronising kiss,

And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit…

*(—T.S. Eliot, ‘III. The Fire Sermon’ in The Waste Land,—Selected Poems (London, Faber & Faber, 2002),—48-53 [49-50].).    

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