Theatre on a Long Thin Wire
An experiment in form and function exploring mediation of modern life through technology
This article is from 2014.
Based on the conceptual composition of Alvin Lucier, Theatre on a Long Thin Wire dispenses with that hoary old theatrical conceit – the performer – and replaces them with a mobile phone. As Lucier was concerned with challenging what could be described as musical, Jack McNamara tests the boundaries of theatre, stripping back to a nondescript room and a single voice describing a lonely man's attempts to reach out.
Experiments do not have a correct outcome, they prove a hypothesis. Theatre on a Long Thin Wire asks questions about the mediation of modern life through technology and, by asking audience members to repeat the monologue from the phone, the line between audience and actor.
Surprisingly for an experimental piece, the message is clear (alienation is made worse by our switched-on culture) but the format does not necessarily make this felt emotionally. Interestingly, the final tragedy is less powerful not because of the use of media, but because it is predictable.
This kind of exploratory work is ideal for Summerhall. However, in the increasingly commercial Edinburgh Fringe, it feels out of place, like the studies of a scientist that need to shared and discussed, not assessed and rated. Intriguing as it is, it is an idea in progress.
Summerhall, 560 1581, until 24 Aug, 4.30pm, £10 (£8)