As part of The Yard Online, comedian and cabaret artist Christopher Green performed No Show, which originally made its debut at the Yard earlier this year. The Yard Online was an entire day of performance, panel discussion and cook-along, and Green one of the performers in the line-up transitioning his No Show into the online world.
As most shows these days, No Show happens on Zoom; 100 strangers put together in a virtual auditorium, eagerly awaiting entertainment, but things do not quite go to plan. Our performer is reluctant to perform, driven by a mixture of stage fright and failing to see the point of a virtual performance. It is up to us to get the wheels turning and the show started. Our reluctant performer is asked to partake in a number of battles, sidekicks are assigned and the audience huddle together in front of our computer screens.
And like that No Show manages to connect a virtual room full of people. We are allowed to keep our microphones on, we are encouraged to turn our cameras on and most importantly: we are asked to contribute, because a No Show doesn’t come from nowhere.
But with all that going on, it feels like the show itself is not clear about what it wants to be – swaying between comedy, drama, interactive theatre, and musical, it would not move forward if the audience wasn’t there to curate it. The plot seems frayed – yes, the audience is essential for the story to move forward, yes, the performer is reluctant, and yes, an audience does not naturally contribute to a theatre performance unless taken by the hand. And these are the problems that No Show encounters. Whether the show worked better in the real world I can only image but, as a virtual dialogue with the audience, it did suffer under the amount of effort it had to put in to keep the story developing.
Green tries to hide a plot within a plot while asking grand questions regarding the future of theatre. ‘What could it look like? What are the problems? What is performance? Does theatre have a transformative power?’. But as the show itself predicts: We will fail at solving this problem because, what is theatre but a platform to ask questions?
By and large, it seems that Greene opens more doors than he can close, that a smooth transition from live to digital performance is not possible for every show, and that an audience is rarely happy to get involved regardless of whether they can hide behind a computer screen; but it can be said that No Show becomes Yes Show once you do the bewildering thing: get invested, get involved and ask those questions.
No Show played as part of The Yard online on 17 May 2020. For more information visit The Yard’s website.