BA English student studying at the University of Birmingham. Reviewing theatre, films, books, local events. My Twitter is @robynwithayuh
Take a nostalgic look at nature, but try not to snooze
Above Me The Wide Blue Sky at the Young Vic
This month, the critically acclaimed Fevered Sleep have brought their latest installation piece to the Young Vic. Above Me The Wide Blue Sky studies our instinctive connection with the world around us; how it provides both a backdrop for our milestones and becomes a main feature of them, and the way it seems to be slipping away not only from our memories, but from the world around us right now. A thought-provoking piece of performance art, it strays from the conventions of theatre, and creates a unique experience for each member of the audience.
The sole performer, Laura Cubitt, delivers a poetic stream-of-consciousness type narrative, compiled from interviews conducted by Fevered Sleep with members of the public from around the country. It creates a canvas that the individual can add their own experiences and memories to. The little whippet, Leuca, that accompanies Cubitt in to the installation and sleeps on a soft bed for the duration of the performance, seems to bring the audience an extra level of hushed concentration.
A daydream type atmosphere is achieved with screens on the four walls of the room, surrounding the audience, showing rolling white clouds. Dim, golden lighting from lamps that seem to grow from between cracks in the chalk-block flooring, adds to the cosy, intimate setting. Throughout the piece, classic string music, mixed with birdsong and the sounds of nature, support the detailed description. Overall, Fevered Sleep have almost captured an ideal environment for an audience to feel comfortable and reflective.
The likelihood is that this piece will have a variety of effects on its audience. Some may remain alert and focussed, while others embrace the daydream atmosphere, to the extent where they too join Leuca the dog in sleep. There is no saying that this is a negative result, as the intention of the installation seems to be to evoke personal thoughts and feelings by being highly descriptive, while also impersonal.
Some may be underwhelmed by the simplicity of Above Me The Wide Blue Sky, however, it can be argued that a certain state of mind is required to fully appreciate and take something from this piece of performance art.