I need to preface with this review with a disclaimer – this is either a one-star or a five-star show, depending on your sense of humour. The title A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits Rocking in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and Then Leaves is not a misnomer. That is the show.
This is either a work of genius or the laziest attempt at art that will ever be seen.
Yet there is a buzz in the air. I turn up to see hundreds of people waiting to enter the Annexe for this show, which promises absolutely no plot, drama or happenings whatsoever. How wrong I was.
Once seated, and right on cue, the young man dressed as a gorilla dressed as an old man appears to a rapturous applause. He sits in the rocking chair. But he doesn't rock. Someone shouts: "Go on mate, I'd like to see some rocking," which was met by a vicious hiss, "shhh," from the audience. Suddenly the chair moves by as little as an inch. He rocks the chair once. The room erupts into applause.
I realise through observing the interaction between crowd and performer, this act is more complex than it looks. The timing of each individual rock, the scratch of the head, the removal of his glasses is all dependant on crowd's relationship status – if they are committing to the moment or divorced of any interest.
Then it starts becoming even more surreal as audience members take to the stage with offerings – as if it was a shrine. First it was a packet of crisps, placed in his lap, but opened by another crowd member, before the act humorously flicks it to the ground. Another came with a banana, someone else a beer, a water – a guy even placed their sunglasses in his blazer pocket. This is either a work of genius or the laziest attempt at art that will ever be seen.
An American guy shouts, "Rock that chair," then in unison the room follows suit. Low and behold the act rocks the chair. A couple in the front room get up to leave to a cacophony of boos. In fact, every person who left received the same farewell.
I sit and think some more about what this could mean. Maybe the point is it's meant to mean nothing. Maybe it is a metaphor for the patriarchy? For a start, it was only men approaching the stage, and only men to instigate the chanting. The applause he receives when he eventually puts a pipe in his pocket, peels a banana or puts on the sunglasses is reminiscent of the way society appraises any minor male achievement. And the majority of the audience can't get enough. What does that say about us?