As If No-one Is Watching review by David Casey

A powerful lesson in empathetic thinking, and a call for female solidarity to overcome the anxieties and societal pressures of everyday life.

A powerful lesson in empathetic thinking, and a call for female solidarity to overcome the anxieties and societal pressures of everyday life.

Vulcana does good work. it’s hard to debate that at this point. I have yet to see anything with their name on it disappoint, and this show is no exception. As If No-one Is Watching is an installation work with a performative interlude and finale. In the installation, you walk around to varying individual female performers and use your smartphone to tune in to one of two stories that performer has created – their inner thoughts. What I only realized when trying to re-listen to the stories after the performance, was that it was possible to play both tracks simultaneously, creating that anxiety-ridden feeling when your mind buzzes angrily with too many words and emotions. I hope the majority of the audience were more experimental than me and realized that, as it was obvious that a lot of these stories had been created with that mechanic in mind, and pulled it off masterfully.

The stories themselves ranged from funny, to inspiring, to harrowing, to depressing, but not a single one failed to illicit a strong emotional response from me. Each were inherently personal to the individual, yet relatable to the wider population in some way or another.

Due to a lack of forward planning and poor battery usage, my phone battery died shortly after the halfway point of the performance. While this did mean I missed out on some of the stories, I managed to hear six out of the ten performances that were present that night. While I was disappointed to miss out on the same experience as the rest of the audience, the near-silence of the night and the mesmerizing performances made for a deeply reflective experience of its own, intensified by the mental challenge of imagining what the performer’s inner thoughts were. In my life recently, silence has been a place of intense inwards reflection, criticism and anxiety, for better or for worse. The capability of this show to draw my focus outwards by listening to the stories of others, and then to continue that connection even without the audio storytelling, is incredible to say the least.

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