Am I Invisible Yet?
Written and performed by Dunstan Bruce
Directed by Sophie Robinson
Produced by Tom Dussek
Movement coach Jack Kristiansen
Lighting tech Katy Matthews
British band Chumbawamba were for thirty years anti authority, anti fascism, anti authoritarianism, pro rights for all and the class struggle – or, ‘what are you rebelling against?’ ‘what have you got?’
A packed audience of friendly fans greeted a barnstorming new solo show written and performed by band member Dunstan Bruce.
Middle age creeps up and suddenly – there it is. And we have a choice; go gently or go raging. Dunstan’s chosen to rage, rant and roar.
Now for most of us with a pre-digital past, there are boxes of photos, cassettes, maybe the odd VHS.
In future we’ll all be haunted by our billions of digital photos and reels, those ‘ten-years-back’ Facebook surprises already a jolt.
But what if you were in a band? There’s already TV clips, TOTP, chat shows, you in performance, in the papers, in youth. How you looked, how you moved, how you sounded, how you were. Then.
Dunstan’s pursued by the past, memories played out on the old telly screen of the mind; here a back wall screen and projector.
It’s a piece of performance poetry and physical theatre, recited, chanted, repeated, lyrics, slogans, questions and demands, scraps of remembered song.
Often angry and despairing, his clips echoed by glimpses of today’s young female activists, you sense the pride and support for this new generation taking over the rage mantle.
At its best, it’s funniest and most engaging when vulnerability and simplicity take over from the bravado, in the chatty ‘I can’t sing’ spontaneous bits round a guitar folk song.
Standout moments include a physical bit with – a fall? A tantrum? Then ‘Did you see what I did there? I got up!’ had the audience howling.
And some great use of the space, one with a megaphone racing all round the theatre building, downstairs, under the auditorium and back up the other side, emerging panting and triumphant.
From coat to pants the palette’s grey, beige and dull – but there’s a red mini skirted bathing costume and garish suit in the mix, that Am I Invisible Yet? sense of naughty irreverence mixed with the challenge.
A touch of clever lighting closes the show as the spotlight shrinks and focuses down to final moments on his face and a message of hope.
In the end, it feels like a show with two personas. Angry-funny, inyerface-endearing; the punky performance poet and the more mellow, reflective, self mocker, who for me was the most captivating.
There’s more subtlety, nuance and layers to be teased out from the piece, and I do hope it goes on beyond this two night event.