Pressed into a shallow heated space between audience and front curtain, the five performers of This Kind of Ruckus stand poised, ready for action, red crepe pom-poms quivering just slightly. ‘It’s theatre,’ they seem to say, ‘It’s a show.’ But that’s a complicated idea in the world of Version 1.0’s politically charged, verbatim theatre. Even more than in previous shows (the wheat one, the boat one), the lines between real testimony and performance text, or performer and person are decidedly grey. The subject matter here – domestic violence, sexual violence, power and control – is strangely intimate, as rage often is. In two equal halves, the ensemble examines ‘consent [a]s a grey area.’ How do we get from here to there? What separates accident and intent? Who is culpable?
I look away for just a moment and a heavy, bouncing disco has become an uneven stumble-embrace as David catches/pulls Kym and they fall to the floor. A mediated rehearsal of how-are-you-I’m-ok becomes an exercise in misunderstanding. Overhead, slow motion replays dissect the moment of embrace, a tumble, the changing pallor of rage – in extreme detail, over and again. Smeared stage blood and eye-shadowed bruises turn a game of which 12 guys would you fuck into a sinister and grotesque play of aggression.
It’s just a show. But I leave unnerved.