Fear is not an immutable emotional state, it fluctuates; it’s a way of perceiving and filtering reality, of engaging with risk. Fear keeps us safe as we stand on the edge of a cliff. In Keine Angst, Ira Brand teases fear; she weaves a personal narrative into snapshots of encounters, making visible not only the language fear speaks, but also its physical materials, lyricism and intimacy.
Keine Angst is a show about decisions, about fear as dominant and subversive, emotional and evocative. Ira Brand is scared of performing; yet she is here, in front of us, and it’s not so bad after all. She is also scared of dying alone, of rats, of flying, of horses, of terrorism and of singing in public; yet she starts the show by singing to us: it’s a raw, evocative and deliberately awkward moment. Brand trades in subtle confrontations, playing with our own relationship to fear. She wants to show us live fear, real fear, but she can’t.
The piece is both epic and delicate, grounding the discourse with scientific facts about how phobias work. Spoken through a microphone, these factual interludes interrupt the emotional narrative of the piece. Brand uses repetition and endurance to evoke the intangible reality of fear, the fluctuating nature of this human emotions. She teases the audience’s imagination and allows us to place ourselves within the piece. At times, Keine Angst feels like a game of associations in which we’re the protagonists. Its tone is irrevocably optimistic, yet also dangerous in its curiosity.
Keine Angst is a subtle piece, one which asks big question in an intimate way. Brand doesn’t address fear head-on; there is nothing aggressive about her encounters, and this is where the tension arises. She breathes life into the images she describes and brings a camp-fire quality to her stories, a sense of sharing. She evokes both the small fears we overcome daily, and the big ones that we can never anticipate. By focusing on the micro, Brand is better able to explore the macro.
This is an evocative show that makes its audience pause and think about what scares them. Brand’s curiosity is infectious, and the rhythms of the production, its juxtaposition of the fantastical with the real, makes it easy to relate to. As a whole it makes for a beautiful portrait of human consciousness. In Brand’s eyes, imagination is fear’s most powerful currency.
Keine Angst is on as part of Sprint Festival at Camden People’s Theatre. For more information visit the Festival blog.