Review: The Fifth Wall, Buzzcut Festival
4.0Overall Score

It’s safe to be said, that unless you’ve ordered something, nothing exciting ever comes in the post. It’s either bills, tax information or political guff – the joys. As part of The Fifth Wall, created by Tammy Reynolds for Buzzcut Festival 2021, each individual audience member receives a package in the post containing a short book and a small ‘gift’, let’s say. (It’s rather exciting!) In addition to this, the text is delivered as an audio piece, which is emailed to you upon booking.

A year into the pandemic, Reynolds embarked on a commission to make an accessible piece of art that messes with perceptions. Finding previous attempts of ‘virtual intimacy’ deeply disappointing, Reynold’s wanted to challenge that term.

The show is advertised as a “Zine and Pube”; if that doesn’t intrigue you, then I don’t know what will. Identifying as “a white-queer-disabled-depressed-dwarf”, this is a voice that we don’t often hear from. The tone of The Fifth Wall resembles that of a stand-up comedy set – it’s personal, open and pretty unique, as the text acknowledges some perceptions and issues that Reynolds faces as a dwarf. Not only that, it tracks the creative process of the show and we share the discovery of the script with our reader.

As a keen journalist (in terms of, I keep a journal with doodles), the text reminds me of what I write myself – a self-aware, unapologetic stream of consciousness that is entirely rooted in the present. You know exactly what Reynolds is thinking, seeing and doing at every moment, whilst getting a unique insight into another person’s head. The combination of a book and audio piece is extremely engaging and becomes more of sensory experience.

The climax of The Fifth Wall can be said to be where we achieve the ‘virtual intimacy’ that Reynolds aims for – i.e. When we get to the pube. I can confirm that I received a little piece of card with some doodles on it and a trail of hot glue, leading to a single pube. The idea was that you’d follow the trail of glue and connect to Reynolds via this pube. Although this is a little too bold for me, I understand the idea and concept. But many of you may be braver than me.

The Fifth Wall is a unique, interactive and oddly refreshing installation. The concept and openness of the show is what’s most powerful and fascinating – this is a way of achieving a deeply intimate connection with the audience from the comfort of their home. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of the end of Zoom theatre, as we move into the future of new shows post-pandemic.

The Fifth Wall is available to stream online as part of the Buzzcut Festival. For more information, see Buzzcut Festival’s website.