Interiors, Vanishing Point’s 2009 success, returns as part of Edinburgh International Festival. With a detailed and unusual set designed by Kai Fischer, the audience look through a window on the Lyceum stage at a cosy dining room all set up for dinner. The performers come on-stage in ones and twos. The catch? We can’t hear what they’re saying. An otherworldly voice describes the characters internal monologues and desires seconds before they act, leading to uncomfortable and hilarious moments.
Watching through this window, the audience are instantly cast as the voyeurs of the dinner party. We witness the type of behaviour that only occurs when people think they are alone or at ease amongst friends. The acidic commentary turns out to be coming from a roving ghost who enjoys spying on people through their windows. Inspired by Maeterlinck’s play L’Intérieur the piece also calls to mind Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where a narrator tries to fill in the gaps of what’s happening before his or her eyes while spying on his neighbours through the window.
The micro crises of those we watch unfold. We witness subtle rejections and hurt feelings, leading to the audience feeling sympathy (or laughing at) the misfortunes of our entertainers. The awkwardness of the human relationships and the layers and codes of the performers’ interactions depict the subtle layers of conflict, power struggles and politics that lie under everyday occurrences. Perhaps there is not any grand theme being discussed in Interiors, though the loneliness of the ghost voyeur and those on-stage, that seem alone even while in the group, strikes a chord. Observing humans through a glass, as animals in the zoo are viewed feels unnatural, although they are in their natural habitat of a comfortable home. The space they are in seems safe, aside from the guns they put to one side as they enter the room (it is winter – bears may attack). What we see is not so different from what we would see behind the windows of our neighbourhood while walking home on a dark evening.
This revival of Vanishing Point’s Interiors directed by artistic director Matthew Lenton is an entertaining watch and a great platform at EIF for one of Scotland’s most innovative and experimental established theatre companies.