IN A WAY SO BRUTAL doesn’t present itself as a kind show. Everything I see prior to entering the theatre is stark, harsh and brutal.
IN A WAY SO BRUTAL
BANGING YOURSELF AGAINST A WALL
IN A WAY SO BRUTAL
HITTING YOURSELF AGAINST A WALL
I think, and prepare for the possibility that, I’m going to be punished somehow. I’m also in a front row seat on my own which is Awkward. I’m expecting incredibly loud music, strobe, sensory overload.
I’m expecting a show about monsters.
But that’s not the show they’ve made.
Because when you’re talking about monstered bodies, it’s the body eating itself. It’s inversion rather than attack.
I spent a lot of time in my last year of university thinking about body fluids on stage. The limits of acceptability, the abjection of the self, the monstrous female, turning oneself inside-out in performance.
Eirini Kartsaki and Tasos Stamou’s sonic theatre experiment treads the same lines, but with the aural rather than the physical. They create a visual and sonic landscape that is inverted, seen in negative colours, heard like the black lodge monsters in Twin Peaks, recorded backwards then played forwards. From the fibre optic fungal spores to the long long wig and plastic nipples, this show feels like it’s protruding. Every signifier of nature feels uncomfortable and penetrative.
Kartsaki sings like a wound throbs, constantly elongating her words, sliding through different pitches and warping the noises a person can make, and the subject matter of her recitative concerns itself with the abject, with materials in the wrong places.
She has three hard deep holes in her forehead. Am I doing this to myself, she wonders? Or is it someone else? Is it someone else?
Her monologues slip and slide between beastly and casual. In once instance, she summons a ‘labia beast’ which chases children into the sea, in another the mic stops working and she starts chatting to the stage managers, whilst still keeping completely in tone with the tone of the show.
The structure swims and flows into new bulges and gluts and clots and rests. It’s bifurcated in places, as the two performers existing in their separate zones. As Kartsaki takes luxurious length of time to change costumes, Stamou creates a terrifying soundscape that I can only describe as radioactive.
Each minute of this performance has 10 different things going on. Each position and pose has 15 different points of contact. Each second of sound has a cacophony of brass, synth, strings and distortion, all layered together in a trifle of tasty tasty performance gooiness.
Throughout it all, there is an imagined, but never immediate violence. Violence against a tourists at the London eye, violence against an annoying woman, violence against yourself as you bang your head against the wall and collapse.
IN A WAY SO BRUTAL also doesn’t invite neatness. You think it might, when we get the ‘in a way so brutal’ title song, you think ‘ah, they’re chanting the title song, it must be over now.’
But then, Stamou takes centre stage and Kartsaki returns to the audience, and he plays this guitar solo over a rumbling echo. It’s a sat-at-the-end-of-the-road in the middle of the desert, singing-your-horse-to-sleep-song.
In a way so brutal, in a way so mournful, in a way so unexpectedly gentle and delicious.
IN A WAY SO BRUTAL is on at the Yard Theatre till 25th January as part of NOW 20. More info here.