“You can do anything you want”
Sleepwalk Collective’s Karaoke explores the notion of performance most fascinatingly at the Battersea Arts Centre, interrogating the very concept of theatre’s way with words as two performers take up their places on stage in front of us and in front of a screen onto which the words they must speak are projected. And they must speak them, the karaoke machine dictates their every utterance, forming the boundaries of their existence here.
But even as this approach may seem unnecessarily proscriptive, rather than limiting the potential of the piece, it explodes the world of possibility. Iara Solano Arana and Sammy Metcalfe interpret and perform the spoken word in such ways that what may at first seem nonsensical or abstract, gains purpose and edge. Personality breaks through posturing, reality breaks through performance, and the fourth wall – if it ever existed – is thoroughly dismantled.
This is one of the more intriguing aspects of Karaoke – the interrogation of the role of the audience and the act of watching theatre, suspending disbelief, entering into this artificial relationship with the actors before us. These are ideas which provoke much thoughtfulness and this is a show about which I have thought much since leaving this lovely venue, though it is easy to see how its unique approach could prove alienating if it just ain’t your cup of tea.