The Author.

Departing from my usual SWA observations, or shameless plugging of Falcon and Junior, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on another interest of mine outwith the world of wrestling. Theater. During Edinburgh Festival I headed through with actor Rob Drummond to take a look at one of the best plays being performed there this year, one of the most psychological plays I’ve seen which will likely have many of it’s audience questioning what they’d experienced for weeks.
I tried to avoid reading too many reviews before going into The Author at Traverse Theatre last night, and I’m glad I did. This is a play you can’t go into knowing too much, if you went in knowing the end result it just wouldn’t have the same impact. So if you’re reading this, plan to see the Author and want to really experience it – I’d stop reading if I were you.
Do you want me to continue?
With the audience facing off against each other and writer-actor Tim Crouch sitting amongst us in the crowd, the show started with an odd sensation. Mostly of us all wondering how many people in the room were actors. It was then that a fan – who was an actor – opened the show with a funny commentary on why we were all here, how exciting it was and introducing himself before the story fell into place with Crouch began his part.
The story is one of an author and his play, a violent and disturbing piece which he discusses it’s process. The research, the imagery, of violence and abuse. Two actors, also sitting amongst the audience, join in giving their tales in the research process and how it changed them while the fan joins in with some comedic relief every now and then primarily focusing on his connection with the theater.
As the play goes on, we learn that the actors, the author and the fan have suffered lasting effects of their exposure to the vile, the disgusting and the unthinkable and as the evening unfolds, their damage is exposed with one actor discussing how it made him violent and aggressive before walking out, the author confessing that it desensitized him enough for him to commit an act of abuse without thinking or caring, and the other actor who suffered from the abuse while the fan questions why we the audience, are willing to watch as the actors push themselves, and us, to the edge.
For film fans, it’s like Reservoir Dogs in the sense that it revolves around something you never see. It’s explained, it’s told. The imaginary play they’re discussing is implanted in your head. As is the research, the violent imagery. With the fan talking about his connection to theater, particularly in a moment where he talks about how we’re all locked away in our own deprived reality while the outside world continues with their merry lives, it focuses on the effects of the more edgy and risky performances, enhanced in theatre with live audience and interaction, which to me can be more powerful than other forms of violent story telling – the ones that get the bad press such as video games and TV – how these effect the audience as well as the actors.
In contrast to the jovial opening and the laughs throughout, the play ends showing two broken down and distressed actors. Damaged by the research and the performance of violent abuse, and then we see the author living in shame at his own downfall and act of child abuse. The fun of the theater seems lost when each walks out one by one in pain – and audience members (which had me and Rob questioning whether some were plants) left as the story became more uncomfortable to be a part of.
To me this play explored the crossing of lines in the name of art, the pain and punishment the actors put themselves through in realism, where does the line lie between the violent monster you’re portraying or writing and yourself, how does this effect you and why are we watching? Why are we willing to let ourselves fall into a bubble of reality where the unacceptable is acceptable because it’s fiction?
In terms of the actors, it’s a fascinating study in how people approach their roles and how far they delve into them. Should they delve far enough to effect their personal lives for realism? And with the audience… well, it was wonderful to see the faces after wards.
We discussed the walkouts afterward and there was some debate over them being planted for effect. But throughout there were people shriveling up, playing with their hair, looking at the ground, distracting themselves from the story being told and with the walkouts – staged or not – there seemed to be followers, and those remaining who felt guilty for hearing the tale to it’s bitter end. Outside, there was a look of guilt and shame of those who were uncomfortable and remained.
There were mixed reviews as we left but overall, I enjoyed it. It was a play that messed with your hear as well a good story being told (though you’d need a strong stomach for it) with all the above.
A special thanks must go to the Arches for getting me the tickets, and for Rob and Jackie for the enjoyable night. If anyone reading this doesn’t think much of theater, I can tell you now, you’re missing out on a whole world of brilliant, fascinating and gripping ways of storytelling.

1 Comment

  1. [Site update] The Author. – http://scottishwrestling.co.uk/community

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