Less Light
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Darkness proves immersing

Fringe World review: Less Light by Lazy Yarns ·
The Round – State Theatre Centre, February 7 ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

It’s one of the delights of attending a live performance: The buzz in the foyer and auditorium, as the crowd anticipates what they are about to see. And the excitement at Less Light‘s opening night was palpable – perhaps amplified by the dynamics of the space.

But paradoxically, the audience was hyped because of what they wouldn’t be able to see. A blindfold was placed on each seat and the program explained the show would take place entirely in the dark.

Even the names of the performers were withheld – the program referring only to “an anonymous collection of Perth artists”, directed by Mitchell Whelan. This established a confessional tone: instant intimacy in a non-judgmental space.

And as details about each storytellers’ cultural background or sexuality slowly emerged, the benefits of this sensory deprivation became clearer. Even as someone who celebrates diversity, it is hard to avoid forming some assumptions based on someone’s appearance.

The memories, experiences, observations and musings shared by each of the three performers range from poignant to banal; earnest to intentionally funny. We hear about the homes they’ve lived in, their friends, their lovers, aspirations and fears, their views on ghosts, on porn, on food…

At the beginning of the Less Light project, each performer was interviewed for two hours – and the script has been crafted from that original 22,000-word transcript. Responses to the same questions have been intercut, in a similar style to a documentary; individual threads (coloured by candour and spontaneity), woven into a whole.

This is enhanced by the evocative live soundscape, performed by WA musician Jacob Diamond.

While I admire Lazy Yarns’ experimentation, I found perhaps half of the material compelling or engaging. (To put it in perspective, the last piece of verbatim theatre to thoroughly hold my interest was based on 80 hour-long interviews.) And while the (relatively young) performers clearly drew on some interesting experiences and perspectives, I suspect their best anecdotes are still to come.

Still, Less Light is a moving, immersive experience. At one point my eyes welled up and I have found myself looking forward to their next project.

Less Light closes 10 February.

Read Seesaw’s Q&A with director Mitchell Whelan.

Photo: Marshall Stay

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Features, Performing arts, Theatre

Dark verbatim

Have you heard of No Lights No Lycra?  It’s that disco where you dance in the dark.  Lazy Yarns’ second Fringe show sounds like a theatrical cousin of sorts… Less Light is verbatim theatre set in the dark.

Intrigued?  We were… so we asked Mitchell Whelan, one of the trio that is Lazy Yarns, a few questions to find out more.

Seesaw: Who are the artists behind Lazy Yarns?
Mitchell Whelan: Campbell Pollock, Isaac Diamond and me.

S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both?
MW: We met during our time training at WAAPA, in the performance making course, which played a huge role in developing our skills as collaborators, thinkers and artists. But there’s been a lot of learning on the job in regards to the business of putting on our own work.

S: Can you describe your artistic practice?
MW: Lazy Yarns started as occasional podcasts and web-skits, but it’s become a lot more than that. We try to consider what the best stories we can tell are, and which platform is the best way to share it. Our work is fairly light hearted but we hope to create work that connects the audience with something close them.

S: Can you name a career highlight so far?
MW: We’re really excited to be part of Summer Nights this year, in such a versatile space that really elevates the work we’re presenting. Also we always throw a really good after party for ourselves.

S: How about a career lowlight?
MW: There’s been a lot of rejection e-mails. But those are more like ‘learning curves’.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MW: It’s exciting and scary to put on your own stuff. We’re lucky to have a really supportive audience base. They’re small, but growing and last year backed our show financially which has really helped us continue to grow and do what we’re doing now.

S: Tell us about Less Light
MW: Less Light is a contemporary verbatim project set entirely in the dark. Live soundtrack, provided by our own Isaac and his brother Jacob Diamond, creates an ethereal backdrop to anonymous story tellers. The show transports you to places unknown that feel oh so familiar.

S: This is your second Fringe. What made you decide to come back to Fringe World?
MW: Fringe World is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s a great place to try things out, and to make work on your own terms.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
MW: Minus One Sister, presented by Summer Nights and SALT, looks like it’s gonna be great, and The Cockburn Incident written by Zachary Sheridan will be hilarious!

S: What is your favourite playground equipment? 
MW: The swings (no offence).

Less Light plays The Round at the State Theatre Centre of WA from February 6-10.

Photo: Marshall Stay

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