Art’s not a mirror, it’s a hammer. That’s the gist of what Brecht said, anyway. According to Google. I’ve never read anything Brecht’s actually said – frightfully undereducated in the ways of old white men talking about theatre, me. Or, to be fair, anyone at all talking about theatre prior to 2011.
I reckon he’s wrong though. I mean the sentiment is clever, and handy depending on the piece of work you’re applying it to, but it means that to call something art, it’s always got to be this aggressive, transgressive, transformative thing… Sometimes it is, and that’s still what thrills me; makes me grab people by the collar and shove them in the direction of the box office before it’s too late goddamnit. But other times, it’s actually just a bit more like a nice night on the sofa in your dressing gown watching Friends re-runs and finishing the bottle of whatever-the-hell-it-is that someone left behind after your Halloween party two years ago. I like art to rattle my cage, but sometimes I just want it to give me a good time and then never see me again. That’s enough.
So I’m pro-mirror, sometimes. Unless it’s getting disgustingly preachy, a piece of work is allowed to show me myself, or my flatmate, or my friends, or that guy on Twitter who… why am I still following him? There’s plenty of Daily Mail psychologising to be had in the idea that we lie to each other, vociferously and often, in big ways and in small, particularly as we curate our lives on social media. So Yve Blake doesn’t really bother with that in The Lie Collector and instead goes straight for the smash cut, You’ve Been Framed, Buzzfeed version – analysis lite, big on laughs and interspersed with moments of wry observation. Yup, Yve’s basically a series of GIFs – which is pretty impressive in and of itself.
It’s a short show, so there’s no point in giving too much away. It’s not always funny; built as it is from public submissions, our lies aren’t always that interesting. In fact, mostly it seems we lie about outrageously boring stuff. But then also about leprechauns and flying sharks so, you know, swings and roundabouts. Yve herself is magnetic, frenetic, ping-ponging about the stage like a compere on uppers – this isn’t stand up, these aren’t her stories, she’s laughing along with us; curating the ridiculousness of human beings. Oh no wait, that’s us. Har.
Lie Collector’s fun. Definitely at least ‘The One With the Cat’ on the scale of Friends Episodes You Would Have Had As Much Fun Watching At Home in Your Pants as This Show. Bring a friend. Bring a pint. Don’t worry too much about your existential wellbeing. So laugh. Very art. Wow.