Long microphones hang from the ceiling, as performers Emma Clark and PJ Stanley face each other from opposite ends of the Cavern. A collaborative project between the American and British artists, Atlantic seeks to explore long-distance relationships and the divisions that separate us in our most vulnerable emotional state.
Clark walks slowly towards Stanley, stating poetically: “This is ocean. Beneath my feet there’s concrete. The walls are made of brick,” perhaps coincidentally describing the very room we are in. As the artist begins singing Bobby Darin’s La Mer (Beyond the Sea), it is soon clear who the stronger vocalist is when Stanley joins her. He invites her to dance, as A-Ha’s Take On Me plays, and they move gently in the space. He requests her to “tell me what you know,” to which she replies: “You are a sword in a stone, you are boats leaving harbours.” His responses are similarly poetic and romantic: “You are a city that never sleeps, you’re the hubris that carves faces into the mountain,” their individual responses delineating the differences between the United States and the UK.
Clark trails the microphone on the floor, while booming sounds are played in the background. The artists then pass the instrument back and forth to echoes of heartbeats speeding up. Later as water cascades, evoking rain, minutes of grunting and gasping occur, as they fight against each other, suddenly and inexplicably – sadly like much of the show. Clark and Stanley seem to have marketed their piece to possess more substance than it actually does, which is a shame, considering the interesting subject matter, which has potential to be more detailed. The sociopolitical aspects of a long-distance relationship are very much tethered to individual spaces, yet Atlantic fails to fully capture these bonds or the emotions that permeate such relations.
Under the now diminishing water, silence unfolds among the audience, but the piece’s conclusion does not leave much to ponder over.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.