CCA, 8th-9th April 2015
Presented as part of the Arches’ BEHAVIOUR15 festival
It’s easy to be cynical about “western society”, and almost pretend it’s something that we’re not really part of -or that we totally are, but we really don’t approve and find the whole thing rather vulgar and distasteful. And why not? We do spend (read: waste) a lot of our time and money on, let’s face it, shit. But sometimes, amongst the aggression of consumerism, there are pockets of joy. And you don’t even have to “get away from it all” to find them. In fact, you need to zoom right in close.
And that is exactly what Gob Squad have done. Western Society begins with a quick whizz through the millennia of gold accessories and no knickers, just to get us up to speed on “humans like bling” thing. But, as they totter around, slowly dressing and building a home for themselves, I am surprised by the lack of contempt I feel- sure, they don’t seem smart, but hey- they don’t seem bad either.
Finally arriving in 2015, the company introduce us to a two minute YouTube clip of a family gathering, eating cake and playing karaoke, a microcosm (the most CCA-appropriate term they could think of) of “western society”. Because in this scene, artless and vapid as it may seem, you can start to see just a hint of a reflection. And so begins the rest of the show which is really, in essence, this video reenacted again and again. The company switch around the positions, emphasising both the fakeness and reality of what’s at play here: sure they don’t know these people, they’re play-pretending at being them, but they’re also really dancing. Screens and cameras frame our focus, but they are really filming what’s happening in front of us.
Soon enough though, four performers on stage isn’t enough for the seven featured in the clip and the audience are called upon to step up and help out. And from this point, dear reader, I have to admit my view may have been slightly blinkered because sometimes when life throws you a rainbow trout, you just have to grab it and make your way to the stage…
The beheadphoned volunteers follow instructions to help us continue a looping reenactment of the clip- I am given the role of Cake Lady. I think I was born for this. And in this comforting cycle each performer inserts themselves, their stories- their pasts and hoped for futures. Because this is a performance which doesn’t look for the beautiful, but for the honest. It interrogates but doesn’t judge. A show which doesn’t tell you you have to be clever, cutting-edge, cynical. But that it’s great just to be Granny, dancing alone at the back of the room, loving life.
[Caitlin MacColl- @turningtoaverse]