South Street Arts Centre
I don’t want to give too many details away about this beautiful, reflective and experiential piece of storytelling; part of its magic is its mystery, but it is worth outlining the framework within which it takes place.
Somewhere, in a secret location, on a rooftop with a view across a busy shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon, a single audience member sits at a desk wearing headphones and listening to Greg Wohead guide you through a cleverly crafted story.
The story is written just for you, just for that place. You sit at a desk that the performer had been at earlier in the day, at a time in the past, and he has left the performance for you to find in the future.
As you sit there, he asks you to look out, notice the landscape, the people. He paints a picture of the past, asks you to imagine the landscape as it once was and tells you a story of a moment of travelling, an event that leaves a physical mark on its landscape.
It is theatre in an unusual space and it is part of Sitelines, a festival of site-specific and site-responsive theatre in Reading. The piece is both site-specific and site-responsive, using the view and the history of the location to root the performance in its place. Yet it offers a new perspective on a familiar location, both literally, because of where it is located, and figuratively, through the story and imagery it creates.
The piece is an exploration of the never-ending progress of time and where we as humans are situated within and on that perpetual progression. We are hurtling through time, and every split second is gone before you’ve even realized it was there.
Staring out at a town centre full of people shopping, talking, wasting time, rushing, waiting, you realize that we very rarely stand still, and this piece creates a very beautiful, touching and personal moment of stillness, shared, with a stranger.
It is a gift that the performer gives you, even though you never meet; it is a connection through spacea and time, it is present in that moment, but, as soon as it has happened, it immediately becomes past.
Greg Wohead is doing what great art should do, exploring philosophical concepts in their human application, how we experience them, but he does it with real innovation. It is evocative and questioning and flawlessy written and delivered, but it is also quiet and understated and simple, and rings with a sincerity that makes the experience you share with him really very special.
Reviewer: Liz Allum