Review: Louder is Not Always Clearer, Chapter Arts Centre – Experimentica Season

Image: courtesy Jonny Cotsen

Louder is Not Always Clearer, Saturday 1st April, Chapter Arts Centre, reviewer: Bob Wigin

A man stands in front of the audience and begins to flail and jump, looking to the crowd for a response. Before long, he types outs sentences which are projected on to a large screen behind him. We learn that he is deaf. Louder Is Not Always Clearer is an impressionistic, autobiographical theatre piece about the life of its lone player, Jonny Cotsen and the challenges he faces as a deaf man. Over the course of forty-five minutes, Jonny’s character seems to slowly come out of his shell. He shouts out different words, putting them together one syllable at a time. He then asks the audience to lip-read a video of silently moving mouths. An interesting moment comes when he tells us that sex in the dark is scary for him because he cannot see what the other person is saying. Very little dialogue is used in the show, with the laptop and projector serving as his main method of communication with the audience. This created an interesting sense of verbal stasis within the theatre which, when broken by the question and answer session with Jonny at the end of the show, made me jolt and appreciate the ease with which sound allows me to communicate.

Louder Is Not Always Clearer is the definition of experimental and fits perfectly in to Chapter’s Experimentica season. However, it would be difficult to come away from this show unsatisfied or befuddled. Though it consists of a mix of different, dances, sounds and visions, the picture of the specific life which is created out of these things is clear. By the end, you will feel warmed and want to know more about the life of the show’s creator.

by Bob Wigin