Review by Pearl Esfahani
With the lights dimmed, meditative chimes and nature sounds, an audience awaits Francesca Beard – our guru guide to navigating a post-truth era. We’re plunged into an otherworldly sermon of viral fiction and data cloud storms. Minds and machines meld as deities of the old and new are evoked. However, very quickly the expectation of being led on a path of enlightenment is shattered, and lines between Francesca the person, poet, and storyteller are blurred. After a brief Trump poetry tease, she sets the record straight that this is not a show about every political buzzword trending on social media at the moment. Instead, over the next hour, we are invited to take part in an exploration of the very fabric of ‘the lie’ (of which go to fact-finder site Wikipedia apparently breaks down into 27 types). You can, of course, exercise your right to not go along for the ride, but it will be a much more enjoyable experience if you do. Besides, you’ll soon find out it’s impossible to examine the lie without yourself being complicit at least some of the time.
Highlights of the quest included game show Whose Lie Is It Anyway? In which our knowledge is tested on historical truth-makers. A gloriously bare-boned love poem without any of the romance, (because that just glosses right?), was a particular favourite of mine. Effects through sound and projection eerily transform the space during its more dramatic moments, and Francesca really comes into her own as we journey through unspoiled memories, neurons, and everyday confessionals. At times the energy stalled between transitions at each ‘stop’ on our quest, and at times the structure got in the way of itself. However, Francesca’s total ease and warm in front of an audience carried the connection throughout. By the end, she bares herself through captivating spoken word tying together motifs of bubbles, memory, blades of glass and holding yourself back with your own hands. The audience is left realising that as a species we’ve been skilled at spinning a yarn since the dawn of time, and any battle against non-truth has to start with ourselves.
This show was on at BAC until 19 May