In The Future Show Deborah Pearson tells us how things are going to be, for her, for us, from this moment until she thinks her last thought. Imagine how it would be to know the future. This knowledge would create a terrible lock, trapping you inside yourself in each specific moment of now-ness, fully aware of what is to come, unable to do anything about it. I felt like the walls of an iron prison were closing in on my mind, and the show didn’t seem to be without cost to its creator.
Deborah is great performer, someone with sensitivity and the ability to balance an audience on the edge of a narrative knife. Here simply sitting, reading a text prepared specially for this show, as it must be for every performance, there is fragile poetry and subtlety in her voice. It carries you through deep digressions into the details of individual moments and out into the vast, only partly documented, future of her life. I found myself wishing for more contact from her during the reading but that is just not the nature of this piece.
The text is incredible, mixing a perfect miniature portrait of the location it is happening in and the experience of its performer after it is over. The images and stories are vivid and immediate, sharing the qualities of a practised diarist, dramatist and poet. The writing and the tone of its delivery captures the feeling of memory, so we imagine the events and feelings described have already happened and are simply being recalled rather than fabricated. Happiness, love and humour blend with profound anxiety and self destruction. There are beautiful comic constructions within the flow of the story, just as there are sections which feel like a kind of cold-reading, a presentation of what we would like to imagine our lives to be. Through all this there is a powerful sense of the weight of time on a person.
It becomes a show about the self as story and the story of self: we become what we tell ourselves we will be. Life is a narrative we make up, largely without considering how we relate to our future self as we are slowly turning into them. There is a kind of crushing force created by the recursion of bringing the literal details of the future into the present. As if living in a constant state of déjà vu or a kind of whirlpool of experience, a vortex which exposes the final smallness of the self, dragging audience and performer into a singularity where all time happens at once and ultimately continues without us.