The theatre was tiny, set back from the city centre, and that night they had two performances in different areas. I was amazed that they would be able to fit them in but it seems that the Cygnet New Theatre is quite Tardis-like! The area that Awkward City were in was a large performance space and the audience were quite far back, it gave the effect of voyeurism, watching as this couple’s relationship bubbles and unravels before our eyes.
The stage was minimalist, with a white wall, a table with flowers and a projector front of stage. Fringe Theatre is often like this for easy get in/out but I think the minimalist approach is a good one, especially for an emotive performance such as this, it risks getting swallowed up by extraneous prettiness. The rawness compliments the realities.
The performance was not linear – it bounced around, like a constant memory in bits and pieces: the proposal, the meeting, the first date, arguments, holidays. Interspersed with beautiful projections, these moments were highlighted and reminded you of similar moments in your own life.
The relationship of the two characters were realistically portrayed, both Tom and Carla, who were very believable and affable characters. Their meeting was wonderful, the nervousness, saying the wrong thing, the ‘getting to know you’ bit, play fighting juxtaposed with the heartache and the knowing that you cannot go on anymore. Heartbreaking.
There were two scenes that really stood out (actually three, there was one where the shadow of the flowers were cut and the flowers on the table fell off – I was amazed but, afterwards, my friend laughed, called me naïve and revealed that they used magnets – I thought it was magic, I am naïve!) The first was where Carla was listening to answerphone messages from different periods of the relationship, and deleting them. The second was when Tom was replaying moments of the relationship in his head (recorded sound bites) and as he does this he is rooted to the spot, staring at one point as if two moments have collided and he is powerless to shake it off. Powerless. I had this moment the other day and in my head I had a Liza Minnelli song, Losing My Mind, ‘I sometimes stand in the middle of the floor, not going left, not going right’. That’s just me though. Powerless.
You know the performance had the desired effect when the house lights come up and the audience are wiping tears away, as I had warned in my initial blurb, I took tissues so I was not too worried about the blubbing. This sadness and reflection lasted all night; in fact my status update in Facebook mirrored this
‘What’s on my mind, eh? It’s all getting good for my empire of Strictly, the band has a gig very soon and im excited it’s at De Traceys. Seredipidty’s trying to help me but I’m ignoring her calling cos I’m afraid of rejection and petrified of falling…so I’ll concentrate on work, business plans and theatrical commotion cos if i do then I’ll be lonely but won’t have to deal with emotion… the performance was amazin’, Awkward City, but I was sobbing all the way home to my lonliness and my kitties.
Although I’m not really alone but that stuff about love, the possibilities, the disappointment the hope, the one that fits you like a glove, we’ve all been there, we all know the joy and the pain and maybe one day I will go there again. And when I am ready I will follow miss dipidy and maybe it’ll be fabby or maybe it’ll be shitty but when it happens I have to be aware cos I’ve been told to keep alert, no time to sit and stare…’
We were left on a knife-edge a ‘will they won’t they’ conclusion but, those of you who are vigilant will have noticed the silver lining for those two. About a quarter of the way through the performance was a little projected cartoon that panned out their lives together, right through to old age, so keep your chin up my dear, it seems happy endings do exist but you have to take the rough with the smooth
This is Ems signing off, probably going to have a sob, but telling you that, if you get the chance, go and see it or book it.
Awkward City Theatre
As Without, So Within
Cygnet New Theatre, Exeter
Performers: Carla Lewis, Tom Giles
Director: Amy Lewis