Unboxed at Etcetera
The Face to Face festival celebrates solo theatre and its power to candidly speak to an audience. A trio of monologues by renowned performer Claire Dowie and by Martin Stewart make up Unboxed, a show that poses questions about human behaviour and social norms.
The monologues depict realities where people must form their own rules and devise their own theories, only to see them shredded by new and unexpected information. For every story there is a content character who must then decide whether to deal with a Pandora’s box of hitherto ignored but vital clues. Seamlessly weaving storytelling, stand-up comedy and song, the works are engaging anecdotal snippets of reality. They impart powerful messages that linger in the mind, inviting one to consider the transformative effect of knowledge.
Claire Dowie presents a new monologue named Random Subject. It tells of a pensioner who targets random people and follows them around in an attempt to find out as much as possible about them. She notes down every detail of her observations, including the items in their garbage. The piece is a tongue-in-cheek reflection on social media and it highlights the emptiness of getting sucked into the trivial details of other people’s realities.
The second piece, Arsehammers!, deals with a delicate family situation, in which a young girl witnesses her grandfather’s health decline. She takes the audience through the emotional rollercoaster of trying to make sense of his transformation from play-companion to someone who “magically” finds himself in the oddest locations, not knowing how he got there. Dowie also performs songs extracted from her novel, Creating Chaos. The overall effect of her performance is a powerful mix of the ironic and the inquisitive.
The third piece, performed by Martin Stewart, is called Peter and the Actinoids. It is the story of an acclaimed chemist whose research findings are challenged by a surprising object found in a box. The seemingly trivial “artefact”, as he calls it, forces him to rethink everything he had supposed to be true. Once bereft of the meaning he had attached to his universe, the eager and frustrated chemist coins a fitting motto: “not necessarily”. It is the epitome of a newfound, open outlook, born out of the realisation that knowledge will always be limited.
Both Stewart and Dowie are excellent at delivering bittersweet comedy that is laden with depth and substance, and leaves the audience eager to learn more.
Unboxed is on at Etcetera Theatre from 15th until 23rd August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.