Violently resisting plot
A response to GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN’s Number 1, The Plaza
It is a very human thing to seek stories. Which is why it can be very unnerving watching shows which don’t provide them pre-packaged. On the other hand, humans are very adept at making narratives for themselves given fragments, echoes and suggestions.
It quickly became apparent that Number 1, The Plaza was an evening with format (albeit a grotesque parody of one); the performers referring to each other by their real names, playing off each other in a double act, taking on personae which become increasingly more extreme. Jen is dark and sullen, and as brutally honest as the vivacious blonde Lucy is attention-seeking. Like matter and anti-matter, the two clash creating a “metaphorical space” in which to play with the audience.
Lying, covering up and bullshitting their way through the show, they half-arsedly program their own lighting states, mess up duets and fool themselves that they have something to show. As audience we are left trying to make sense of these fragments of performance, unsure of where they were heading, and to what end, but compelled to watch two lost clowns trapped in their tiny flat.
In show with a relationship at its core, Jen and Lucy self-consciously demonstrate the mechanisms at work in theirs, from the status games they play, to their strange and intimate bonding rituals. Songs form emotional touchstones, rather than furthering any plot, much the same way as they do in musical theatre, demonstrating that, despite the appearance of chaos, they know exactly how to use the theatrical tools at their disposal.
To make your audience feel and think certain ways, arguably performers need to be at liberty to use every tool available, including nudity. And when Lucy exposed herself to the audience physically, I was left thinking, how long will she stay unclothed? I was waiting for the moment she would re-dress, put everything back in order and the show could continue without the feeling of awkwardness the nudity presented. But of course, life isn’t like that and so she remains exposed, like the stage mechanics, throughout her curtain call.