Here We Are Again feels like a slight tease due to the timing of its release.
The short, from writer Dan Rebellato, follows a character (read by Jesse Fox) walking among trees and talking to them, since he considers the trees his friends and it’s been a long time since he has been able to come and see them. This sounds slightly peculiar, and Rebellato playfully engages with this – the character recognises how strange he must look and employs different voices that he imagines are observing him and questioning his actions. This adds a levity to the surface of the piece, but at its core, this is a thoughtful meditation on friendship and reunion.
For some of us in parts of the UK these themes are hovering just out of reach, considering we are mired in the middle of a second lockdown and are cut off from friends and family. But in spite of that, Here We Are Again packs an emotional resonance as Fox’s character describes re-engaging with the trees and being flooded with joy and excitement after such an extended separation. That’s a feeling many of us will recognise (whether related to Covid or not), and it speaks to a deep need within all of us – to connect with others, to extend from ourselves and be nurtured by company and companionship.
Rebellato expands on this by noting the difference between memory and imagination compared to reality. We can spend countless hours reminiscing and thinking about those we love, but nothing comes close to real time spent together. Rebellato illustrates this in the work by emphasising the tactile, tangible space of the trees in comparison to the elastic, infinite, but subsequently vague spaces that exist in our heads.
Indeed, Here We Are Again continues the Shades of Tay project’s strong theme of evocative, sensuous descriptions of nature. In particular, the sense of touch is prominent here – the gnarled, earthly textures of the forest come to life through Rebellato’s descriptions of bark, roots, and twigs.
There are some moments of repetition scattered around the piece that may have been intended to have a poetic effect, but rather come out as tautologies. In a short piece like this, every word is precious and it’s a shame when some passages become laboured as a result of clunky, repeated wording. You can hear this in Fox’s reading, too, as he struggles to get around consistent utterances of “trees” and “friends”.
Though the tone of the poem does clash with how many of us are currently living, the message behind Here We Are Again is deeply comforting. Its focus on friendship and reconnecting is a reminder of experiences and values we are all hoping to return too, eventually.
Here We Are Again is now streaming on Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s YouTube channel.