Watching Eli Kent’s All Your Wants + Needs Fulfilled Forever and trying to discern the overall message or theme was very similar to trying to play catch with a moistened bar of soap – I’ve got it, no wait…it’s gone again. No wait I actually think I have it this time, oh, it’s slipped away again etc…
The ungraspable aspect of this metaphor, however, is as far as it goes. Unlike playing catch with a lump of Pears (not that I would actually know, I’m not that odd) the experience of watching Joel Baxendale, Victoria Abbott, Hamish Parkinson and Eli Kent ultimately befuddle the entire audience at the Vaults felt neither frustrating nor ultimately fruitless. Walking away and hearing fellow audience members hypothesizing was all part of the experience.
On stage white tarp-like walls create an open box which initially suggested itself as the boundaries of the set to me. However, once the play begins only one character remains confined and it becomes apparent that the austere enclosure is some kind of experiment ground for the unwitting captive, Simon.
A solitary lightbulb hangs from the ceiling and flashes in time to an electronic voice with a self-proclaimed Stephen Hawking likeness. This character, if it can be referred to as such, reveals itself as the mastermind behind the social human experiment this play is seemingly based upon.
In an unnervingly accurate and insightful manner the electronic voice makes jarring reflections on the way in which subjects can be manipulated. It tells the audience “I will allow you a minute to feel an adequate amount of empathy for Simon” or points out in its electronic monotone how the sad music elicits sadness in the audience. This is annoyingly true, even to the point I felt emotional over a break up scene between Simon and a mannequin…I know. I know.
Each sardonic comment results in a feeling of – damn, that was how I felt – until you find yourself second guessing every emotional response to the action of stage. Again, where this can be frustrating in a day to day situation when you wonder if you only think you need bifidus digestivum because Actimel tells you do you, it was just extremely and intriguing in the context of Kent’s script.
Fantastic acting, fantastic writing and a fantastic concept. I thoroughly recommend going and have your brain scrambled for an hour and a half at this incredible show.