The theatre company ‘Reckless Sleepers’ take their name from a painting by surrealist Rene Magritte, which is a valuable insight into their work. Surreal certainly describes their most recent ‘project’ (as they refer to it) which was being performed at Lakeside.
Surreal, unconventional, uncomfortable, and fascinating.
‘Pilots’ explored the very nature of drama and theatre by breaking down the barriers between audience and actors, and reality and performance. The set-up was simple: two men, who entered from amongst the audience on a black stage with minimal props, all of which appeared to be general clutter from the theatre that had been dragged in from the wings. The two men (played by Tim Ingram and the writer Mole Wetherell) then spent an hour pretending; they pretended to be actors, they pretended to be rehearsing a play, they pretended to be pilots, and as a finale they pretended to be in Wham’s! 80’s classic ‘Club Tropicana’ video. It was a very fragmented performance, the audience was addressed directly, the actors left the stage for breaks, there was an ‘interval’ during which no-one left the theatre and there were pauses to change lighting and sound, all of which resulted in a confusion as to what exactly was going on on the stage. Furthermore the acting in itself seemed experimental as the actors played at being angry, played at screaming and shouting, played at being depressed, and played at dancing and singing. ‘Pilots’ was a performance of theatre itself, which drew from real issues and came to no conclusions. Ultimately the audience was left feeling unnerved.
I personally was expecting the play to develop into something more easily graspable, to have some sudden revelation of understanding. Perhaps I was naive as to what to expect from this company. The play was playing with my emotions, I was puzzled, I was intimidated, I was scared, I felt nervous, but I also laughed… if extremely uncomfortably.