Conversations with Myself
- Gareth K Vile
- 15 August 2019
This article is from 2019
An emerging attempt at a new theatrical form
Influenced by Bill Evans' album of the same name, and the 1969 Stonewall Riots, Conversations with Myself is an uneven exploration of attitudes towards transgender identity. The protagonist, Nicholas/Nikki attempts to come out at a party thrown by friend, but the guests represent the anxieties that have been blocking the process.
The Cambridge Mask Collective are a new company and appear to be searching for a distinctive style: a series of impressionistic episodes have diverse influences, from cabaret to Le Coq, but not all of the ensemble have the physical versatility to carry off the characterisation, and the narrative veers from an early scene that suggests a man trapped by his job more than the reflection on gender identity acceptance that provides the meat of the drama. While there are some smart touches – Nikki is the only unmasked character, a blunt comment on authenticity – the anxieties are variously demonic and symbolic or more naturalistic and complex. The dance interludes are generic and dull, adding little thrust to the production.
It's clear that CMC are chasing after a theatre that explores themes and takes challenging content seriously, but the dramaturgy is still embryonic and tentative. Ideas appear and disappear, and the circular structure is effective but contains a varied bunch of scenes that do build the narrative but are not quite consistent enough in quality.
C Cubed, until 17 Aug, 7.50pm, £10.50 (£8.50).