Theatre on a Long Thin Wire
  • By Kyung Oh
  • |
  • 16th Aug 2014
  • |
  • ★★★

There are no actors in this show. We are led into a room by a staff member of the venue. There is a chair in the room and a phone sitting on it. When the show begins, the phone rings, and one of us picks it up. A man is on the line and he talks to us through whoever has answered the phone. The man tells us he is sitting in the cubicle of a public toilet. He asks us for our encouragement as he makes his way step by step out of the toilet, walks down the street, and makes his way towards us.

The format is interesting, but the show doesn’t go much further beyond that.

It is a curious format for a show. We imagine what the voice of the man sounds like; the person holding the phone changes several times throughout the show. Each speaking participant has his or her own way of speaking, a different level of confidence and volume.

The man seems to have some kind of agoraphobia or anxiety about being around people. He constantly tells us how much we are helping him, how we are like a force beam protecting him from the people on the street as he walks towards where we are. It becomes somewhat disconcerting at times to hear a stranger tell us that we mean everything to him, that he couldn’t have managed to leave the cubicle without our support. There is a sense of overstepping boundaries as we are forced into becoming his support network. There is some degree of suspense hanging in the air as we look at the door of the room, wondering if he will walk through it.

This show challenges several conventions of theatre. It raises the question of authorship, with the appearance of the show happening in ‘real time,’ unscripted, and also in the way the man’s words are only relayed to us through the person holding the phone. The show also explores the question of performance, of the gap between writer and speaker who delivers the words onstage. I also began to think about the nature of conversations that take place over the phone - the double nature of a phone providing a kind of directness and immediacy, while still providing a sense of safety, a person’s concealed presence, but I am not sure if this aspect of digital communication really comes to the forefront of the show.

It is not really a riveting piece of theatre; the lack of real events requires a lot of patience from the audience and doesn’t provide much excitement. The format is interesting, but the show doesn’t go much further beyond that. An interesting concept nonetheless.

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The Blurb

No actors. No technicians. No set. Just you. And a phone that might ring. This is the theatre you don’t see. Inspired by an infamous piece of music generated by a single copper wire, this new work by Jack McNamara strips the theatre experience down to a bare room, an audience and a mysterious voice. 'The level of risk-taking required to achieve this is staggering' (Total Theatre on Jack McNamara's last show, Exterminating Angel). Strictly limited availability.