“We are a collection of atoms. That is all. That’s all.” On leaving Bats after seeing The Singularity, the impression I had was of a play, and a group of actors, who took themselves very seriously. It was a sober piece; characters spoke gravely about the speed of light, black holes and God. The Deep Stuff was delivered in a pretty declamatory way, which meant we went for long stretches without any humour (though there were stabs at levity from an eccentric woman who played the piano).
Taking a look at the script, I discovered that the stone-faced solemnity which the actors had manifested onstage was right there in the stage directions themselves, which read a bit like some of the magnetic poetry I used to make on the fridge at my old flat;
The man leaves.
The woman stands alone.
In a feeble dressing gown.
Ah ha! I thought. That’s what was so strange; those people were acting in italics.
As well as being serious, the play was seriously confusing. Short stories are great vehicles for mystery, outlandish situations, and revelatory twists on the final pages. The reader is prepared to be kept in the dark for a while because after all, you know that in ten pages there will be a big reveal. The Singularity, adapted from a short story by the director and some of the cast, had a long foggy setup which was, I felt, never paid off in a way that made up for all the murk. And it was a quantum-y sort of complicated; I was left with the impression that various characters were other characters at different ages, living concurrently, and writing on each other’s fruit. Several of the actors were different ages from their characters which added to the confusion.
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The lighting and sound were subtle and attractive. The set was fun and pretty impressive for Bats, with the skeleton of two rooms built on a raised stage, with a small gap between for a man to lurk in. I thought the actors seemed constricted on it, meaning that there was a lack of spontaneity and some odd work with props and doors (which were imaginary).
Perhaps one of the characters should have turned out to be Keyser Soze, or dead the whole time, or even a fembot all along. The cast obviously were really committed and determined to give us a tour-de-force of dark and mind-bending theatre, but I couldn’t help feeling (far fetched astronomy metaphor warning!) that the supernova of the concept left the rest of the elements in the play a red dwarf in comparison. God, that was a terrible metaphor.
At Bats Theatre
April 10 – 19