Arts Review: Thinking No Longer Means Any More Than Checking At Each Moment Whether One Can Indeed Think

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 14th – 15th November

presented as part of ELIA’s NEU/NOW Festival 2014

Thinking No Longer Means Any More Than Checking At Each Moment Whether One Can Indeed Think. It’s an enticing title. The relatively short (just 45 minute) production is an attempt to understand “existence”, with a heavy emphasis on sarcasm and irony.

The performers, Julie Solberg and Erika Cederqvist, aim to create an awkwardly intense setting, but at the same time a fully serious analysis of how we consider our presence as an “obligation to change the world”, or whether we feel any obligation at all. This is undercut with heavy sarcasm, wine in hand, swirling underneath their thick-rimmed glasses.

The question of the grey area of comedy comes through here: at some points, half the audience are engaged in the philosophical questions that arise, the other half laughing. Solberg and Cederqvist rely on the audience’s response and participation in directing the formality of the piece. This focus on the audience’s participation makes the production particularly intimate, with both serious questions and sing-along. The interludes of classical violin pieces between each attempt of “understanding”, amid the actors’ casual flailing adds to the satire of their production.

Via violence, reproductive organs, and political revolution, these attempts to explain existence are executed with simple conclusions, for exampled: ‘we shouldn’t go back to the sixties’. These also cause the audience to wonder whether or not they are being serious, flicking the switch between comedy and analysis back and forth faster than you can keep up with.

The irony therein of the middle-class audience, and the lack of a message is the real, underlying enjoyment of the play. Solberg and Cederqvist reject the feminist viewings of the production itself, feeling more restrained by these quick assumptions of female expression rather than being liberated by them, and wanting to make an overall analysis, rather than being tied into gender-specific ideas.

The acceptance that this is supposed to be taken with many pinches of salt and an open mind allows Thinking no longer… to be a worthwhile view. You may be disorientated at the start, but the grasp of the idea appears relatively quickly into the production. You’ll enjoy it, and head home with some deeper thoughts too.

[Evan Osborne]

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