Above Me The Wide Blue Sky, Young Vic, London
A haunting and uncategorisable piece about nature and change
Thursday 14 March 2013
Fevered Sleep return to the Young Vic for the first time since their remarkable 2010 show in which children delivered the verbatim thoughts and feelings of elderly folk who had been interviewed on the subject of growing old. The latest, eloquently uncategorisable piece – which also makes key use of perceptions canvassed from the public – addresses the theme of biophilia, defined as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms” and it registers feelingly how the human world is inexorably alienating itself from the natural world of which it is part.
It takes place within installation. Above the audience on all four sides of the Maria studio are screens showing film of clouds drifting through a deep blue sky. On the ground level, lamps on spindly stands with their heads at different angles sprout from a central rectangle of white chalk stones. The lamplight fluctuates in intensity, and sometimes crackles with what looks and sounds like a nervous collective snicker or goes out completely. The soundscape proper is ethereal tinged with foreboding.
A young woman (played by Laura Cubitt) enters with a dog called Leuca, a delightful whippet, who after a little encouragement (First Night nerves) lies down on her bed and sleeps peacefully throughout. On her revolving stool, Cubitt delivers a prose-poem-like litany of myriad collected responses to nature – ranging from the little (“the smell of snow on wool”) to the large (“The deep black abyss of an infinite, star-studded night”) and from the pleasant (“the sweet steamy breath of a cow”) to the icky (such as the distinctive “taste of an ant that has crawled up into a sandwich”).
The clouds on the screens start racing towards us and then, after an interlude in which the woman talks to us autobiographically about all the things that have been lost in the natural environment of her outer-suburb childhood home, the initial evocative list is repeated, this time with a change of tense “There used to be” and in a more mixed up and telegraphic form. Inducing a pang and a panic of nostalgia, it makes you almost hear the world depleting itself. The clouds start to look like grey fireballs. The show does not prosecute an argument (in that respect, it's the antithesis of the lecture format of the Royal Court's recent climate-change piece Ten Billion) but it works delicately and by poetic association through its telling musical structure. It's haunting; it stays with you.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Gaza Banksy mural sold to 'conman' for just $175
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men