Review: Round and Round and Round, Chapter Arts Centre – Experimentica Season

Image: courtesy Sheree Naqvi

Round and Round and Round, Wedneday 29th March, Chapter Arts Centre, reviewer: Emily Murray

Before we walked into the theatre, we were told, “Men enter on the right and women on the left,” followed by, “When you get into the room, men are allowed to sit and women must stand.” The man then handed over a piece of paper to each of us, that read our “instructions”. Mine read in Capitals “DO NOT TAKE A SEAT’. My male friend Callum’s piece of paper read “TAKE A SEAT”. We looked at each other with a sort of ‘what have we got ourselves in for’ look and then entered into a dark corridor with a line in the middle. As instructed, Callum walked in on the right and I on the left. When we reached the room there were two men sitting on chairs in a circle in the middle of the room and two women standing on the left by the wall. When I entered, they said to me “Shall we just take a seat anyway? I can’t be bothered to stand!” I replied cautiously, “I don’t know, I don’t want to ruin the performance! Maybe we should wait til it’s started and then decide” And I am so glad my well behaved, scared to break the rules self, did.

The room was completely dark, except for a few lamps that lit up the men’s feet by their chairs. A woman, who had stood at the adjacent wall to us, proceeded to walk into the middle of the group of men and stare each of them down individually. She then unravelled her hair, pulled it out in front of her face until she was knelt on all fours on the ground, with her face covered. She began to sweep all of the men’s feet with her hair. Uncomfortably intimate would be how I first felt when I saw this. After their ‘turn’ each man would shuffle uncomfortably, re-arranging his feet and stroking his face showing his discomfort and dislike of the situation. One man however did not really squirm. Every time she would approach him his legs would get wider apart. Every other man got up after a while and stood with the women, except for him. I believe that he was somewhat more intrigued by the theatre than others. On one of his turns he took his shoes off and sat cross legged in front of his chair. I can see that he was interested in how she would react to this, but it made me feel even more sorry for the actress who now how to rub her hair and nose into his smelly socks, not to mention have her head swaying close to his crotch….

By half way through the performance some women were sitting, most cross legged to be avoided, and most men were standing. I was the only female not to take a seat, however I did end up sitting on the floor as 50 minutes was rather a long time. An elderly man had left the theatre room completely. The performance then ended when no men were still sitting and a girl crawled over on her hands and knees to the actress, mimicking her actions in which they both stroked each others hands with their hair. The actress stood up. Walked to the corner of the hallway we entered through, and stood there with her hair still covering her face.

For a good half an hour after the interactive theatre performance Callum and I discussed what we thought of it. “Yeah. Just, really weird. Cool. I enjoyed it. Maybe enjoyed isn’t the right word… It was eye opening. Glad I went. Probably wouldn’t do it again. It was different” was pretty much the mutual consensus.

by Emily Murray