Unfamiliar at Home
Unfamiliar at Home is a rare event where Zoom is used to actually make you feel closer to those on screen, rather than further away. A savvy adaptation of their original performance Unfamiliar, Victor Esses and Yorgos Petrou’s innovative at-home edition uses its convincing narrative of family, sexuality and belonging to create a potent reflection on how we value those in our lives.
A compelling joint memoir exploring parallel struggles of creative expression and negotiating the wish for a child, the performance is punctuated with diary-like monologues, idle scenes of homemaking, pre-recorded audio, and combative moments between the two lovers. This exciting array of sounds and sights lends itself to the duo’s performance art background, a disparate yet dynamic portrayal of two people’s lives presented as one.
The repeated demands to “remember” take on a Beckettian quality, dissolving the intimate and taxing moments of Victor and Yorgoss’s relationship into the ever-present dialogue, touching upon everything from uncomfortable visits by a distant aunt to the trials of wedding planning. Unfortunately Zoom’s limited sound quality makes moments of cross talk difficult to hear clearly, dulling the impact of these more exciting exchanges of lovers in contest.
The use of three different cameras – one focused on a central place, one at their feet and the other in the kitchen – adds to the confessional style of the performance. The additional viewpoints added throughout are an ambitious development, introducing welcome variation and emphasising the personal tone of the steady stream of dialogue. Esses and Petrou manage to create moments of humour despite being fraught with anxieties and worries.
While a bit slow and verbose at times, Unfamiliar at Home is captivating, both as a personal chronicle of a couple and their journey as performers and would-be parents, and as a wider art piece that shines a light on the contemporary challenges faced by gay and trans people and their will to build a family.
Unfamiliar at Home is live-streamed online from various locations from 20th November until 25th November 2020. For further information or to book visit Victor Esses’s website here or visit Yorgos Petrou’s website here.