HOME Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 8th May, 2019
Nasi Voutsas is perched on top of a large A-framed ladder and he’s not coming down. Nervously pacing around beneath him is Bertrand Lesca, urging him to descend: first he asks nicely, speaking softly about love and friendship; but when that fails he turns to audience members and asks them to help out.
Nothing seems to work though, Nasi is just not having it. He’s staying put.
Something has happened between these two. It’s not clear what that something is, but there is no doubt that an awkward unpleasantness is simmering under the surface of forced, superficial politeness.
The rather alarming spectacle of a strange, bearded man atop a precarious ladder presents two kinds of emergency:
- A short-term health and safety crisis, most acutely manifested in the moments when Bertrand violently kicks the ladder frame in utter frustration.
- A much longer-term, psycho-prognostic conundrum: what caused this diabolical situation to occur in the first place, could understanding of the root cause provide a much-needed clue that may help to swiftly bring this nonsense to an end?
But who are these two anyway? Are they friends? Lovers? Just actors?
A delicious moment of popcorn-scoffing hunger-lust is generated when Bertrand asks “Do you like women?” But Nasi’s answer is painfully inconclusive, as well as being painfully difficult to extract; and the follow-up enquiry “Do you like men?” is just as frustrating.
One is a fine example of theatre presenting a mystery that cannot be solved. Most of the show comes across as a voyeuristic intrusion into someone else’s argument – an argument which seems especially pathetic and trivial, given that the net outcome is a man protesting on top of a ladder.
But the mystery of it all is just too intriguing. If you saw such a scene unfolding in the street you’d stick around to see what it’s all about. Live streams would be broadcast on social media, strangers would come together to discuss the rights and wrongs of it all, no one would go home until they got an answer that made sense.
But One simply doesn’t have an answer that makes sense. Having acknowledged that their war of attrition is petering out into a goalless draw, Nasi and Bertrand stick two fingers up to each other (and everyone else) and decide to put it all behind them in a glorious, flowing release of emotional movement – an cathartic discharge of pent-up energy, as good a way as any of getting on with it.
Sometimes, if you can’t beat ’em, just join ’em.
|Visual pleasure||Rather dull visually with nothing particularly intriguing or interesting to look at, got dangerously close to visually uneventful at stages but the strength of the theme and performance managed to hold it together; as did the visual beauty of the closing scene.||3|
|Auditory pleasure||Rather lacking in auditory input but redeemed at the very end in the most spectacular way by use of Nina Simone’s live rendition of Feelings for the finale.||3|
|Architecture & Theme||Builds very slowly (possibly a little too slowly) from a raging argument into something rather sombre and despairing towards the end. Generates a spectacular set of bizarre moods as a result.||5|
|Artistic delivery||Powerful performances by both Lesca and Voutsas, a few words at the end of the show revealed that this was the first ever performance of this show. The transition from annoying arguments to reckless abandon in the face of no hope is beautifully stretched out and leaves a great final impression.||4|
|Overall impact||An intriguing show about despair and reconciliation, nothing is satisfactorily explained or resolved but the resultant stalemate is a thing of beauty in itself.||4|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|