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September 13, 2010 | by  | in Theatre |
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DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE.

Serial killer Ted Bundy just did not get why people were so concerned about his crimes. He’s quoted as saying, while on death row, that he didn’t think his victims would be missed because, “after all, there are so many people”.

I’m not going to go into the plot, but the “so many people” idea crops up a number of times in DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE. In one scene, a character talks about taking the wrong bus and winding up in an area of town populated by a suburban mass of humanity from which he is totally disconnected. When we are surrounded by people, we can feel the most alone. Thor Heyerdahl was asked if the loneliness got to him when he was in the middle of the ocean on the Kon-Tiki. He replied it was nothing compared to the loneliness he felt walking around Wellington. And Wellington is where we are for this, My Accomplice’s second devised show, following on from the decidely more upbeat Sometimes I Don’t Like Yellow.

Kate Clarkin’s Emma is a stubborn mistranphrope who overdramatises her life in order to maintain power over her flatmate, the put-upon Lydia, who is played with heart and, eventually, hopelessness, by Hannah Banks. When help is offered, it is either false—early in the piece Owen Baxendale plays a type of Tony Robbins Jnr., imploring those gathered at the Newtown Community Centre to part with their cash in exchange for the promise of a better, brighter life—or the requests are denied.

As with Yellow, there is often an uneasy tension between humour and pathos. Some of the stand-alone gags are great—my favourite being the ‘Morepork man’—and some of the heightened sequences within vignettes are a treat. However, jokes often feel like jokes, popping up out of nowhere to give us a chuckle. Things get dark in the world of DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE., but aside from Emma and Lydia, none of the characters really seem to show much development. 

The bizarre story which gave Yellow its bones let the company roll around in the devising process and deliver a potpourri of memorable stage images, snappy gags and broadly-drawn incidental characters. All are present again here, but the darker, more grounded subject matter demands more cohesion. Yellow was a shaggy dog story, but DOORS feels shaggier. The show’s intriguing set (which seems to make the BATS space DEEPER, a feat in itself), subtle lighting and thoughtful costuming help, even though you are never sure what it is exactly that you’re watching. In his director’s notes, Uther Dean says DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE. is just one of the many shows which could have eventuated from the process and, though all the story strands are tied up, the whole feels as if it lacks a centre. But so do records. Records like White Light/White Heat by the Velvet Underground. And if you’re in the mood, that’s some spooky, rocking shit. 

DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE.
Devised by the company
dir. Uther Dean
perf. Hannah Banks, Owen Baxendale, Kate Clarkin, Theo Taylor, Paul Waggott and Eleanor Wootton.
At BATS 2-11 September.

NOTE: An extended version of this review is available on the Salient website.

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