Ben Moor stands before us, barefoot and with an ironic smile on his face, as if to reassure his audience that what they’re about to witness is not to be taken too seriously. By the end, however, it kind of is.
Moor’s full-length one-man show takes his audience to places they know very well and turns them into spaces they don’t, constantly confusing harsh reality and a dreamlike world in which human interaction is something ungraspable and uncontrollable. And so we sit on the edge of our seat, partly because it is challenging to follow the narrator’s wild twists and quick witticisms, but mainly because we absolutely want to know what comes next. In an attempt to trace ‘his narrative’, as he calls it, we go from David Lynch in charge of the screens during a football match to companies hiring someone to discourage employees and thwart productiveness. It is all highly imaginative and clearly minutely constructed, but Moor manages the weight of the piece and keeps us awake and wanting more.
The story of his affair with Radium takes centre stage in his tale, and with painful accuracy Moor recounts their meeting and leaving of each other; the description of her emptiness in the flat turns a cliché into a newly-appreciated insight. Despite his troubles, he remains optimistic as the story is told with knowledge of its final understanding about the human soul – Moor doesn’t fake it, creating no drama beyond what is in his words. Kind-hearted and calm, he lets the script do the talking, which might for some mean his delivery is a bit mechanical; however, I found it to be quite engaging and it allowed me to drift along with the dreamscapes that the narrator paints. However, when he does slip up (only once or twice), the disruption hampers the flow of the piece immediately.
When Moor introduces other characters and colourful situations, such as the woman who organises her own intervention to get the chance to talk about herself for an evening, he does so with a purpose. Even if it’s not always clear where he is heading, he is confident in his own insecurity and sooner or later we’re back on track. Ethereal music marks moments of introspection – a moment of peace before marching on to another bout of inventive monologue. Over the course of the show I found myself asking whether Moor depicts a dystopian or a utopian world, but I suppose the fact that I’m still unsure is, in this case, a good sign.
Incisive and pleasantly surreal, Each of Us is an intriguing and memorable piece of performance by a confident storyteller. More please!
Each of Us tours London and Oxford until 25 March. For more information, see the Spesh website.