Blue lights flicker from the right side of the screen to reflect off a wall on the opposite side. A woman in a black party dress walks toward us with a white balloon in her hand. She stops right in front of the camera. In her other hand, she holds a safety pin. After a brief pause, she raises her hand and pops the balloon, sending us into a blackout.
Trap Door Theatre Makes Us Curious
Television static permeates through the entire play. Dialogue slows down and speeds up in pitch, broken and incoherent.
Scenes follow one after the other that have in common disconnected words within a variety of other theatrical elements…
A woman in a red sweater slides on the floor with her socks. On a couch, she dives headfirst into a mountain of pillows. Over her movement, a voice like that of a radio announcer says, “All come all hesitate no obligation is otherwise.” As the woman mimes playing a guitar, the radio announcer continues with his disconnected language. Although the dialogue is confusing, you too, like this reviewer, may find yourself more intrigued in what the language truly means.
In another sketch, the screen is split in two. On the left side of the screen, a woman in red and black looks directly at the camera. On the other side of the screen, we see her side profile from the hallway, giving us another angle to the scene. Television static overlays this moment to disrupt the scene. A voice repeats the incomprehensible phrase, “Voting supplementary is our greatest guarantee.” Unbeknown to the woman, a hooded figure hovers behind her. Like the other sketches, this combination of movement, technology, and strange language builds tension as we wonder about the performance’s deeper meaning.
Tension builds—what does it mean?
From Trap Door Theatre’s promotional information we glean the show’s intent—
“What happens when words fail us? For those disappointed by debate, Discourse Without Grammar is a joyful exploration of active listening and experimental communication. Eleven performers in five countries create video performances that investigate hollow words, empty promises, and collaboration without connection.”
This reviewer was intrigued throughout, finding the disconnected words and variety of theatrical elements of Discourse Without Grammar as a probing question of the purpose of language. Discourse Without Grammar is a match for those interested in experimenting with language and technology through theatre. This show isn’t for anyone looking for a more straight-forward and easily understandable story.
Venice Averyheart, Jenny Beacraft, Anarosa Butler, Marzena Bukowska, Magdalena Gera, Assaf Hochman, Neema Lahon, Emily Lotspeich, Tia Pinson, Matty Robinson and Carl Wisniewski
Streaming via Trap Door Theatre website.
About the Author: Annabelle Harsch
Annabelle Harsch is a senior at the University of Dayton where she studies English and marketing. While at college, Annabelle finds opportunities to deepen her knowledge in the arts, whether that includes watching theatre or film productions, or picking out a new book. In her free time, Annabelle enjoys hiking, kayaking, and reviving dead plants.