Nothing to See Here rather ambitiously sets out to investigate C.G Jung’s notion of “the world within”, the images and ideas of our consciousness. The play asks us to remember our childhood imaginary friends, address the fulfilment we get from our day-to-day lives, and questions how much satisfaction we receive from our relationships.
Entering the dimly lit Arcola Tent to see a simple stage scattered with our everyday clutter, there is feeling that this production will promptly address the core issues of how our minds work. At the heart of this exploration is Jon (Jared Rogers), a social recluse whose source of human interaction is through his imaginary friend, Martha.
Jon’s struggle to ignore Martha’s criticism and focus on the world around him introduces us to Josie (Bryony Thomas), a bored and uninspired call centre worker, Mal (Michael Shon), a failed leadership and confidence builder consultant, and his sister, Rose (Kim Burnett), a frustrated carer who’s a wannabe dancer. Disjointed glimpses of these four individuals’ lives are dispersed with minimal set and costume changes, creating an altogether smooth 65-minute production which promptly investigates all aspects of their lives. Quick, entertaining moments of comedy are scattered through these intense scenes which examine consciousness.
However, what starts off a little intriguing soon feels choppy and fails to gather the necessary momentum to adequately explore the characters in depth. The brief snapshots we are given into their lives never develop enough to stimulate empathy or understanding. This creates a frustrating feeling that you have entered the play expecting to be forced into addressing topics which will stimulate your imagination, but unfortunately find yourself leaving none the wiser.
The individual struggles of the four characters start to feel repetitive, and a little two-dimensional. Although the subject matter has potential to be deeply moving and thought provoking, the hurried and rushed exchanges sharply prevent any challenging emotions from emerging.
In this way, Nothing to See Here gradually steps further away from its premise of exploring the relationship between self and consciousness; it instead becomes brief and impersonal. To take the literal meaning of its title, there really isn’t a lot to see here.
Nothing to See Here played at the Arcola Theatre Tent.