Intriguing, interactive, involving. Sometimes you have to find the voice that will describe what you have experienced. Sometimes it is not with you, but something you have to listen for. I think this is how I would describe how Blood on a Cats Neck imposed its presence on me.
Blood on the Cat's NeckorBlood on the Neck of the Cat, is an absurdist 1971 play originally written by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (with translation by Denis Calandra). It's a simple play about an alien vampire who can mirror human speech and emotion, yet seems to lack a comprehension of what is and is not normal human behaviour, speech and emotion. She misses the cues on what is ethical and normal human behaviour when she observes a group of people at a cocktail party display aspects of human nature that one might say are not our best.
One by one, we move around the room as each character, in turn, narrates a little of who they are and why they are who they are. Then they begin to connect, their conversations being overheard by Pheobe and repeated by her in an abstract observation of what she can only see as sounds and emotions, but not it would seem with true understanding. Or does she understand and comprehend it all differently?
The characters explore light and shade in their discourse. We move again and again around the room, with only light where we must focus. There are some clever lighting games that occur sporadically. The speech is clear and the characters can be heard from almost any position in the room.
I observe the faces of other audience members. I watch, particularly the male faces during two scenes. One where a strong male character speaks of women and their purpose being to submit to men and truly give themselves, another where a female character starts her monologue with an erotic pose. There are some eyes I notice change focus. Yet most are not taking in any more or less than others.
The stories progress and we follow Pheobe. I begin to see a stream of people, a little like spirits, all somehow connected by an invisible cord, following behind Pheobe. At that point, it is as if the audience has merged with the performance and it is then that all are invited up to dance for the finale. I won't tell you any more. You have to experience this for yourself.
I later wonder why the stories around Pheobe are so dark. Is it that her consciousness has only picked dramatic human interactions? Or is she really surrounded by narcissistic hell-bent people who have little true empathy in their own souls? Is Pheobe just a reflection of their own existence being mirrored back in some bizarre fashion to say this is why? Or is it just that the human condition is not perfect?
I found it interesting to experience theatre at the Kings Cross Hotel. I hope this venue is used more and more for such a purpose.
I would also suggest keeping an eye out for future Montague Basement shows. Blood on the Cat's Neck was a "pop-up" theatre experience by Montagues Basement, separate to the current in house Kings Cross Theatre productions.
There may well be much much more to this production than just the philosophical interpretation of one aspect of human nature, but a more intense discourse based on the writer's own personal history and their perception and understanding of the world around them at the time on a grander scale. Check out the philosophical interpretation on the Montague Basement website and see if you can grasp the wider context of the performance.
Thank you to the cast - Alex Chalwell, Jack Crumlin, Jemwel Danao, Deng Deng, Laura Djanegara, Deborah Galanos, Alice Keohavong, Emma Kew, Brendan Miles, Annie Stafford and to Grace Deacon Costume Design.