What We Leave Behind at the Roundhouse
In an emotionally charged and euphonious spoken word performance at the illustrious Roundhouse, Camden, Erin Bolens delved into both the melancholy and humorous when it comes to grief and remembering the departed in her new show What We Leave Behind.
A mixture between theatre, spoken word, recorded interviews, and stand-up comedy, Bolens strives to answer two simple questions: “How do we remember those who have died?” and “Why are we so attached to their stuff?” The “stuff”, we are taught, can be both the physical embodiment like the cardboard boxes that litter the stage, but also the memory left behind.
Speaking strictly of the tangibles, the performance, simply lit and set, was not much more than dim lighting and a sparse recreation of a living room and a buffet table, eerily placed within the cavernous depth of the Roundhouse; the box of tissues boldly set upon each programme, however, clearly delineated that Bolens craft is not idly based in tangibility. Tissues firmly at the ready, the choice then became ours, and ours alone: Do we cry with laughter, or with sadness?
The short answer: both. The wordscape conjured was one of vivid emotive imagery, so much so that, by contrast, it allowed there to be present a more personal and subtle fabric, a gossamer, if you will, delicately spread atop our minds – a catharsis for us, to do away with the absurdity of our mortality, and be conscious of the fact that death has the potential to be a poignant source of wonder and humour. For instance, Bolens elaborates, out of the top four songs used at funerals, one is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python, and another is the Match of the Day theme tune.
Speaking of music, What We Leave Behind is delicately accompanied by the guitar voice of Sam Lunn, which laid the musical foundation for Bolens’s transformative words. This mellifluous piece of art takes the profound and makes it profane; it is ambitious and yet doesn’t overstep, courageous yet respectful.
What We Leave Behind was at the Roundhouse on Tuesday 30th May 2017 as part of the The Last Word Festival. The festival is on from 25th May until 10th June 2017, for further information visit here.