Stereo, 29th November
As I enter Stereo Bar, I’m sure I’m at the wrong place. There’s people eating and drinking and the place doesn’t look like a performance space at all. I think, ‘there’s probably another one at the other end of the city, and surely, I can’t make it in time now.’ Then I see some fellow students and follow them down a flight of stairs to the basement, and there it is – the stage. It’s a cramped space so I take a seat on the corner row as the first play starts: ‘Sandcastles’, written and directed by Agnes Checka.
There’s an upright bed on stage, and an actor starts singing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love.’ The others join in, and the three-people a cappella group sets such a melancholy mood that I cannot help but get pulled into the story- one about infatuation and the ambiguity of love. Why do we love the people we do? At what point should we just stop trying? Why does the heart break? Even though the play leaves these questions up in the air, the projections of the sea, birds, the sky on the stage and the haunting additions of music make me feel like the answer is on the tip of my tongue. On this note, I can’t help but feel it would have worked better if the play ended in this same ambiguous tone instead of a more didactic one suggesting the importance of communication in relationships.
The second play is a physical theatre piece called ‘Apartment Blocks’ and it’s done brilliantly. The performers have to over-dramatise their acting in order to fill the gap created by the absence of words, but this is done just the right amount. The choice and the timing of the songs is so on-point that I feel like I’m watching a Pixar movie. Kirsty McAdam’s piece strangely reminds me of the movie “Up”, and I’d call that a success.
The last piece of the night, written and directed by Morgan Noll, is ‘In Sickness and in Health’, creating a world in which monogamy literally kills people. The originality of the plot is a reflection of the originality of the dialogue; the script comes alive on the stage. The characters are unlikable, but I cannot stop looking. At times the characters don’t feel real, like I’m watching fictional characters in a book- they don’t materialise entirely in their transformation from text to stage, but the unfamiliarity of the play’s world works to cover this fact up. Overall, I leave the place with an appreciation of what the STAG is doing, and has done.