- Gareth K Vile
- 25 August 2019
Feminist physical theatre rages against the machine
A study of the operation of technology and bureaucracy on the female body, The Sensemaker is an extended riff on the frustration of automated phone-calls. A woman makes a call, and is put through her paces through a series of robotic requests, from her details to her willingness to impress on the spot. Almost inevitably, she is asked to strip naked, a sequence that balances between the blandly obnoxious and the deliberately uncomfortable, but her final success reveals the extent that humiliation can be accepted in pursuit of validation.
It is a simple statement, that is over-worked across an hour. The repetitions are consciously capturing the irritation of automated responses and the dehumanisation of human aspirations, but the point is well-made even in the first moments: the shift from a midi version of Ode to Joy at the start to the full orchestral finale traces the transition from frustration to hope, but matching the frustration of the character to the dramaturgy ensures predictable and dull passages. Some early physical theatre routines give place to darker, task-orientated movements and the sudden, fluid if reluctant dance routine is a rare moment of expansive choreography that does capture oppression and the possibility of freedom beyond the phone-call.
Explicit in its feminist intentions, The Sensemaker is more predictable in its condemnation of technology, and sets up an intriguing dualism between the female body and contemporary mechanisation, yet its formal expression of this tension slips into a limited expression of the central concept.
ZOO Playground, until 26 Aug, 3.15pm. £10 (£8).