I’m not quite sure where to start in the process of explaining exactly what Thrown is. It certainly doesn’t make itself easy to categorise, shifting between genres and forms with little warning or distinction. It’s built around Dr. Constance Ellis (Jill Rutland), a child psychologist who appears to be attempting to record a kind of testimony to her future self, seemingly in the wake of her diagnosis with some form of degenerative neurological condition. Her efforts are often overshadowed with the voices and stories of women with whom she has worked in the past, their stories of childhood merging with her own until the divide between the self and the other is all but non-existent.
However, the confusion doesn’t stop here. Like Charles Dickens’ Christmas spirits, we are visited by the Constance Past, Constance Present, and, most disturbingly, the Constance yet to come. These voices mingle in our ears, the binaural technology allowing Constance and her alter egos to drift around the room without Rutland having to move a foot. Writer Jodi Gray gives these many identities a shared sense of fluidity, moving through Rutland.
While the concept is very interesting, and in places extremely well executed, the short running time of the show combined with the relatively large proportion of this time committed to backstory and exposition means that, perhaps, it may be possible to push their idea further than they have. The overlay of voices feels like something that could be expanded, especially in the moments where shifts in the soundscape seem to effect change in the lighting and vice versa.
With that said, this is still definitely an extremely interesting take on the coping mechanisms that we acquire in order to handle the harsh reality that all of us will age, and many of us will forget. It’s also got some wonderfully insightful lines on the nature of teenage girldom – given that we were all wearing noise cancelling headphones and sitting in relative darkness, I’m unsure as to whether the other audience members appreciated these, but I did.
In some ways, the abrupt ending is in itself satisfying. A way I’ve often thought about memory loss is that perhaps it’s like falling asleep: you don’t see it’s coming until it’s happened. In the same way, the final seconds of this piece creep up on us, a promise but not yet a reality. Until, that is, the space drops into blackness, and we are left with our thoughts – and to count our lucky stars that they’re still with us.
Thrown is playing until 10 March. For more information and tickets, visit the VAULT Festival website.