Schrodinger is famous for his ‘cat’ – a thought experiment in which, according to a particular school of quantum mechanics, a cat in a sealed box would be regarded as simultaneously dead and alive. In this production, Reckless Sleepers have created their own box in which ‘normal’ assumptions about ‘reality’ are challenged. The result is an anarchic and surreal piece of physical theatre.
The set comprises a black box/room, with an open front. As the piece progresses, we observe a plethora of trapdoors – large and small, in the walls and in the ceiling – through which the five actors enter and exit in various ways, conventional and unconventional (including dropping from the ceiling, diving head-first in and out and clambering through a space not much bigger than the upper loo window in my house. These guys are seriously athletic and would make great burglars). Sometimes a head appears through one, sometimes a leg or a hand and sometimes various objects (tables, chairs, apples, books, clothes, a briefcase) are jettisoned through them.
Chalk and water play a significant role in the action. The walls become a blackboard: chalk crosses mark the location of various body parts, shouted numbers are recorded, random words/phrases are scribed. Meanwhile, water is drunk (and drunk, and drunk). It is drunk voluntarily and it is forced down each others’ throats. It is also hurled around the box at various points. Trapdoors open and shut. These themes are repeated and repeated and repeated.
It is visually compelling in places but I struggle with the absence of a narrative – or, at least, one that I can discern. I am impressed with the physicality and the creativity of it all, and I appreciate the challenge to usual structures etc etc. But an unintended consequence of the intentional chaos of the piece is that, after a while, I disengage and my mind wanders. There simply doesn’t feel enough there to connect with. I’m not sure whether I just don’t get it – or whether I get it and just don’t care very much.