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“She was all that. So that to know her, or any one, one must seek out the people who completed them; even the places. Odd affinities she had with people she had never spoke to, some women in the street, some man behind a counter - even trees, or barns. It ended in a transcendental theory... the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide... be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places, after death. Perhaps - perhaps."
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
2 Jun 2017 - 7pm
8 Jun 2017 - 11am
13 Jun 2017 - 2pm
Various locations across Camden, Bloomsbury and Westminster including Regent's Park and 43-46 Gordon Square, Kings Cross, WC1H 0PD
Loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, this immersive performance takes the form of multiple journeys around Westminster, Bloomsbury and Camden, culminating in a party at a shared location.
A DRAMATURGICAL ANALYSIS
The performance of '...odd affinities...' based in Westminster and Bloomsbury is perfectly summed up by it's title and the extract from the novel in which the title comes from. The same way the quote discusses the influences we leave behind in unexpected places as we go about our everyday lives, is translated through the journeys through London, as we are forced to look at the minute details that are overlooked as we rush through he streets going from point A to B.
Each moment comes together to create a cohesive walk, interlinking things that would not have any relevance to each other in everyday life. The Septimus walk for example utilises sound and beautiful scenery to elevate us to a world not bound by linear time, but by its history and the influences that people have left behind. More specifically, it focusses on the repetitive nature of war, nationalism and the idea of the war hero as a victim of their society. It plays with permanent structures within Regent's Park such as the military bandstand dedicated to soldiers killed in the IRA attacks of the 1980s, and mixes it with sounds of 1918, on a backdrop of a modern London plagued by a very different kind of war. However, I would have liked to see it go further in its push to blur the timeline. The use of costumed performers is very jarring against the dress of public and doesn't allow you to slip in to the crowd. There are definitely stares that prevent you from being sucked into this world, however perhaps that is the purpose of the performance. You do begin to feel isolated, especially with such a small audience, that you could represent Septimus. The mix of modern, abstract and period costume helps to blur those lines of time. The use of a taxi as a performance space, allows the performance to play with expanding and contracting physical space to their will, a luxury that is hard to recreate on the stage.
Once the walks come together at 46 Gordon Square, you are surprised with a party with an eerie, unexplainable atmosphere. You are tricked into comfort and relaxation only to be disturbed by darkness, repetitive speech and jolting movements. A dystopian puppet show occurs throughout in the corner that mimics the themes of the walk of Septimus. This piece epitomises the title: '..odd affinities...' as you take part in conversations with a multi-actor host that appears to be nowhere and everywhere simultaneously. A connection is created with all the other audience in the room, as they stare at each other uncomfortable with the darkness and the contrast of pace between the performers and the audience. The soundtrack of the whole performance from the start of the walk to the end of the party reflects the underlying reality of the novels themes, and the relation to the author Virginia Woolf. The use of her voice, as well as extracts from her novels, breaks down this idea of the fourth wall in a very complicated way that can not be done solely by doing an immersive piece. It creates this complicated conscious that what is happening is real, but also that Virginia Woolf exists in this world, simultaneously as a character and as an author of the world around her.
The performance asks questions about the internal and the external. The audio of the work physically isolates you as you are unable to converse with anyone, and forces you into a moment of reflection where you really take in the world of war that is created around you in this beautiful sunny landscape of Regent's Park. Then at the party socialising is forced upon you by the performer, for you to be later plunged into isolation with your eyes closed, recreating the feeling of loneliness within a crowd and vulnerability. It asks questions about what we as members of the public perform not just in theatrical spaces but within society and those internal struggles related to the world. However, more importantly I think it discusses the question of what we leave behind, as a society, as a cohort, as a generation and as an individual. We are constantly reminded of the past throughout, whether that be to do with the text and its time of writing, or the changing landscape that relies on the foundations that were built by the past such as a boundaries, roads or buildings, or specific moments of history such as the use of the home of Bloomsbury Group as a performance space. This is a performance that isn't afraid to be blurry, to confuse you, or worried about defining itself. Its immersive quality is definitely an attribute to this and results in you experiencing 80 minutes in a world of uncertainty and isolation.