My next experience with weird theatre was an Azimuth Theatre / Catch the Keys production called Snout, in the little playing space at the Arts Barns. I believe it was written by Megan Dart and directed by Beth Dart, but that is from memory because there weren’t any paper programs. As people entered the theatre, we saw a small tented space, draped with sheets and decorated with living room furniture, which also seemed to be where we should sit. Atmospheric music was playing, and mysterious video images (Matt Schuurman’s work of course) were projected on the sheets. An awkwardly-hunched character in bare feet and a burlap poncho (Ben Stevens) welcomed the theatregoers to his house and directed us to the couches, chairs, and cushions on the floor, while steering people away from a kitchen-table set at one end of the room.
We had lots of opportunity to study the space, especially those of us who were a little bit uncomfortable about engaging with the unpredictable character scuttling around. The draped sheets made a football-shaped space, with openings at either end and at a few other places in the perimeter. After a while I became aware of a looming bearded presence watching us from the various rents in the draping, but again I kind of averted my attention so as not to engage. (As I’ve probably already said here, I love weird theatre – but I’m still awkward about being dragged in to participate.)
The main character turned out to be named Ori, and this was his home. He also introduced us to a Wolf (Steve Pirot), as a friend that he played with and fought with. The wolf stalked on his hands and feet, hair covering his face, and snarled convincingly enough that my neck got shivers. The character felt dangerous in that form. Later, he walked upright and delivered a monologue about possessions, theft, and exchanging valuables, while returning to people various objects of theirs that he had somehow pilfered earlier – in my case, a book about improv theatre that I’d borrowed from one of my teachers. I was probably easy to steal from because of having tried so hard to ignore him!
The other two characters in the play were an ordinary couple, (Ainsley Hilliard and Mat Simpson), who had been together long enough to remember happier more romantic times, but unsure how and whether to try recapturing those feelings.
And the rest of the performance (I was going to say “story”, but that would suggest something more linear and less lyrical and cryptic) was just those characters interacting with each other and rebounding off each other and hurting each other. I probably missed a lot – the box-office flyer suggested some resonance with an Isis and Osiris myth, for one thing – but I didn’t mind, because I liked it.
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