So where do we begin?
Everything is itemised in Trust. Everything is accounted for. The walls of The Gate’s foyer are papered over, secured together with bits of branded sticky tape which read “Trust Developments”. It’s snowing bitterly outside and it feels like we’re crammed into a wendy house in a hurricane. You, me and Michael Billington at the end of the world. It’s freezing. You think about the disparity of wealth in this borough – this city – but this borough, particularly. You think about the people sleeping on sub-zero streets outside unoccupied, sleek white mansions.
The leaflet you receive from front of house details the source of every prop used in the piece. Everything, it seems, has been borrowed from somewhere else. Everything is reusable. Nothing has to be disposable. Things are borrowed “with kind permission” from The Gate, from Ellen McDougall, from the Lyric Hammersmith.
Kindness is necessary here
Richter’s text veers from dense economic theory to thoroughly Martin Crimp-y dialogue. There’s no discernible narrative, no beginning or middle (though I think there is An End). So far, so German. Jude Christian’s production doesn’t just embrace the chaos, it takes it by the hand and does a frenzied swing dance with it. Props are brought on for every scene and then discarded onstage. The stage ends up covered in random (but branded, a lot of the time Branded) debris. Rice Krispies™, Nutella™, eye masks from British Airways™. We begin bare and end with this accumulation of Stuff that we have to pick our way across as we leave the theatre.
The deliberateness of all this impenetrability is – can be – frustrating. I could feel myself drifting. The messiness keeps us at arms-length: Taitte and Laborde Nagouez, in their scenes together as a couple, are directed with this hard shell of artifice and affectation curling around what might have been, at some point, a tender relationship. It’s deliberately wooden, toe-curlingly distancing. This society warps us, feeds on every interaction we have, sucks that desire to connect out of us. It reminded me of Victory Condition, of that feeling of impending doom slotted in alongside boredom and dry (too dry? too cynical?) humour. Just the modern condition.
But then there’s this yoga sequence at the end – this flowing, sensitive return to the body which just feels like magic. And yet after a second of that peace you can feel your brain sparking again, thinking about the commodification of yoga, the focus on the individual and not the community and and and –
It’s a hard, insular piece. It’s knotty and complex. But trying to figure out a viable alternative to capitalism is knotty and complex. It’s long, too. Probably too long. Probably too fragmented and bitty. But that’s okay. Stick with it. Stay with it. Trust it.
Let’s just leave things the way they are
Trust is on until 17 March 2018 at the Gate Theatre. Click here for more details.