What is it like to be young now, to stand on the precipice of adulthood with this world stretched out before you, vibrating with violence and injustice and war and war and war?
An ocean of bodies.
We’ve received this legacy of inequality from our ancestors which still bleeds into our lives so what exactly are we meant to do with it?
We’re going to see all the art of the 20th century in this echoey room at the top of Summerhall today, in the space of 60 minutes. All of its beauty and all of its horror, condensed and recreated for our consumption. And then we’re going to leave it behind.
There’s a couple onstage and they’re young and they wear costumes which hang off their bodies – a huge meringue wedding dress and a morning suit (mourning suit?), these pieces of fabric that we’ve built up and hung together and told ourselves are fundamental to the upkeep of a civilised society. They place gas masks over their mouths and stare out at us in an obscene, apocalyptic tableau.
It’s all just a construct, man. Didn’t you know?
The company walk slowly across the stage and pass through the same oversized blue sweater, trying it on for size, seeing how it fits around their bodies before giving it on to the next person, passing it down. It doesn’t fit any of them properly.
Let’s get rid of it.
There’s a moment almost halfway into Come to Daddy where the lights turn pink and Kevin Parker’s falsetto breaks through the heavy air and a gorilla and a cheerleader dance together and a boy slurps noodles into a microphone and a woman at the far right of the stage plays the theremin with absolute seriousness and a young couple murmur increasingly abstract sexual innuendos into their microphones. There’s other stuff happening involving a space hopper who is also a person and lots of banana eating but I forget.
There’s not much to say about it aside from the fact that it’s so delightfully playful and tongue in cheek and feels like a moment of furious deviance from the canon they spend the majority of the show trying to recreate.
“We haven’t seen much of the 21st Century but we’ve seen enough.”
They’re going to send one of their own to the 22nd century. They ask him what he will miss about the 21st. My friends, he says. My family. And what won’t he miss? A slight pause. All the wars, I suppose. He seems ready to leave. I would be too.
It’s about how time stretches around us but also how actually, nothing changes.
The room stays still as we leave. We’ve come not quite full circle but somewhere near it. Think about what your parents told you about this world and think about what you will tell your own children. Will you warn them?
Come to Daddy is on at Summerhall, Edinburgh, until 12th August. Click here for more details.