How abstract can theatre be without losing its audience? Maxim Storms and Lobke Leirens’s new show Another One introduces its audience to “two fictional mortals” passing the time together. Using physical theatre, peculiar xylophone and violin music and very little dialogue, it’s a show about human experience and connection. Maybe.
Storms and Leiren’s unnamed characters, though similar in their movement, demonstrate their subtle differences. He has a psychopathic lack of emotion, she is slightly shy yet malicious. The design creates an alien environment. The tepee, table and chairs may be normal enough, but the tweed suits, the outfit of animal skins as high as the rafters, and oddly inhuman make-up serve to distance the setting from any kind of recognisable reality. The show begins with the characters stumbling out and exploring their environment, with a kind of stiff, unsteady movement, like new-born lambs, that continues throughout the performance. Similar in some ways to Waiting for Godot, what proceeds is an effort of time wasting. The scenes have little connection to one another; they have a strange twerking scene, a card playing scene, a scene with some Flemish singing, the list goes on.
Like Waiting for Godot, some audiences will find meaning and some will not, but many more will be lost in the absurdity of it. Creative though the direction is, it lacks any kind of anchor, made more difficult by the minimal talking. Another One crosses a line though where it changes from being harmless nonsense to being disturbing. Not simply in that it has difficult themes or a challenging act, but violence, outright depravity, and a casual return to theatrical gibberish. You can read this piece many different ways; there are endless interpretations on what Storms and Leirens are exploring. Like tugging on a rotten tooth, you could analyse their show, even with multiple repeat viewings, and never reach a conclusion. Alternatively, you could not see it at all, and retain your sanity.