An exercise bike, some makeup, a champagne bottle, one packet of chocolate digestives and a single woman determined to tell the story of a man who can fly – this is Stationary Excess. Wearing a man’s shirt, a woman (Jessica Latowicki) begins to pedal on an exercise bike as she recounts the story of a man she likes. He is a journalist working at a newspaper. He is an average guy with nothing out of the ordinary about him, except that he can fly.
Stationary Excess by Made In China is a one-woman battle against something we’ve all experienced, loving someone that is clearly a super hero. No matter how much they make our knees go weak, no matter how strong they are or how far they can fly, they’re always going to be super and we’re always going to be average. In Stationary Excess it is the loss of the man she loves that drives her to pedal on the exercise bike, never getting anywhere but constantly cycling, emotionally and physically.
It is for the most part a witty and laugh-out-loud performance, yet the humour of realising that the man within the story is actually the Super Man (Clarke Kent) only informs the tragedy of what heart-ache is. Latowicki is an excellent storyteller, bringing life to her American tale of falling for the boy who is far from normal. This narration is interrupted by a bell sounding, and ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ song with Latowicki reacting by changing clothes, applying makeup, downing a bottle of champagne or frantically pedaling on the bike. Another bell sounds, the music stops and the dialogue continues. It is within these chaotic moments that Made In China’s underlying emotion and ‘performance art’ emerges, which at first is smile-inducing, and by the final moments deeply saddening to endure. The emotional roller-coaster of a love that can not be is clearly shown, and it is one that we can all relate to.
Yet it is the repetition and the subtle comments that Made In Chine provokes which resonate so deeply. Latowicki is clearly wearing a shirt that once belonged to Superman, which she changes for a party dress as she prepares for a night out. Instead of dwelling on the would-be relationship, she prepares herself up for an evening of fun drunken dancing and a big ‘fuck you Superman’, only to stumble into a sobbing, chocolate-digestive-eating mess. We’ve all been there, and this is what makes Stationary Excess so endearing in simplicity.
I’m always wary of solo performance pieces, but clearly the Made In China collaboration of Tim Cowbury as writer/director and Jessica Latowicki as performer is one that works brilliantly. Stationary Excess is endearing and witty whilst offering a little bit of crazy emotion, but thankfully one we can all relate to. If loneliness could have a place on the stage then Made In China has made it a full performance, both tragic and uplifting.
Stationary Excess was part of the Mayfest Festival in Bristol. For information on the festival and other shows see the website here.