The Rialto Theatre (by the clock tower) continues to carve out its well deserved reputation for taut, edgy theatre. It’s now back in action following the Covid pandemic and curating drama at the top of the range. ‘The Sensemaker’ starts quietly enough with a woman waiting by the phone and choosing Option 1 for this and Option 2 for that. There is that familiar hanging on the line with only repetitive muzak to fill the void.
From this point on, the increasing menace of the options – interspersed by the waiting, waiting, waiting – presents a steady turn of the vice. If you don’t want this option, say ‘yes’, but if you do want that option say ‘no’. And what could be more outrageously ironic than having Beethoven’s ‘Ode To Joy’ as the backing track to these robotic messages?
This one-woman one-act show, performed by Elsa Couvreur, depicted this dystopian world against a bare black stage. Each successive option from the robotic telephone commander demanded more than the last. It was a battle for dignity and against digital totalitarianism in whatever language you choose to speak.
Elsa first trained as a dancer and now works as a choreographer and director for the Swiss company Woman’s Move. She explained that in ‘The Sensemaker’ she was keen to “explore the effects of new technologies on our lives… and the laborious administrative procedures of our bureaucratic systems.”
Elsa Couvreur is not afraid of silence or stillness on stage. But she also reveals her character’s emotional state by devices as dramatic as the balletic arc of her body or as subtle as the twitch of an eye. We trust the messaging.
Our heroine must wait and mime as she is gradually stripped of all humanity. Step by step the humiliations build until there are no more options and nothing is left on the bare stage.
Obsessive acting! Compulsive theatre!
Rialto Theatre, Brighton BN1 3FE
Saturday 11th-15th June 2021, 8pm. Adult content.
Photo by Sebastien Moitrot