IOU, Waylaid

Review in Issue 18-2 | Summer 2006

Waylaid is designed especially for the Square Chapel which, as the name suggests, is a huge square room. Benches run along all four sides. In the centre of the room is a snowy landscape made of white polythene sheets with an overturned car buried in the drift. Lying on the vehicle is a woman who is being watched or guarded by two figures in white who look part snowy owl, part phantom. What follows is akin to a film like Incident at Owl Creek or the novel Pincher Martin – a subconscious stew of events, wish-fulfilments, past histories and trauma which appear to be running through the mind of the woman as she lies on top of her crashed car. Occasionally she is joined by another figure, possibly also a victim, who struggles out of the car wreck to try and help her relive happier moments, before being banished back under the snow by the ghostly white figures.

The soundtrack is relayed through earphones – music, strands of poetic musings, conversations from more carefree times and the random sounds of the landscape. Ambient mikes overhead pick up sounds of the performance and feed them into the soundtrack so at times you aren't sure whether what you're hearing is live or pre-recorded. Playing the sound through earphones, effectively putting it right inside your head, helps to emphasise the feeling of subjective experience.

In one of many powerful images in the show, the white figures uncover the front of the car to reveal that the second ‘victim' has been turned into a beetle (with a metal costume wittily fashioned from the bonnet of a VW Beetle). He's put on his back on a trolley and wheeled off; trapped in the metal carapace and feebly waving his new beetle legs, he looked like a trauma victim who's come round and realised that he is trapped within an unfamiliar body no longer in his control. The image was both ridiculous and extremely poignant.

It wasn't 100% successful – the staging meant that some sequences were difficult to see in certain parts of the room, whilst others had to be performed to all four sides, which felt a bit too slow at times. But a rich beginning for this brand-new show.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-2
p. 29