We chatted to Alexander Knott and Zoe Grain from BoxLess Physical Theatre about their Underbelly show, LOOP which explores family and tradition, and the immediacy of theatre. We at Silent Faces love theatre because it is live and happening right there and then, and thats what the guys at BoxLess seem to think to. Read on for more about their Edinburgh Fringe show!
What drove you to make Loop?
LOOP originally came from the Artistic Director of BoxLess, Zoe Grain, who wanted to create a piece of theatre all about music. She just had the title, and the image of a 1980s Walkman. But from this Alexander Knott wrote two monologues, from the point of view of a Girl and Boy in the 80s, and we scratched this at the original Theatre N16 in Balham. From these two speeches, the rest of the play was written, charting this same family’s journey from 1960s London to Manchester, through the 80s and the New Romantics, and eventually coming full circle to the present day, chronicling this family’s evolution, juxtaposed with the music they listen to.
It was written at a time when we were losing musical legends one after another – Bowie, Prince, George Michael. The nightclub and musical icon, Fabric, was being threatened with closure. It was an incredibly fertile time to be talking about our relationship with music. And we live in an era where everyone constantly has a soundtrack playing through their headphones – even if we aren’t aware of it, in 2018 we have an inescapable relationship with music.
What are the main themes of the play and why are they important to you and your audience?
Family, and whether or not to break with tradition, to go against what has come before you, is a theme which reoccurs. The play opens with a woman deciding to leave her mother and everything she knows behind, in order to start a new life for herself somewhere different. And change, too, the changing of the eras, the passing of time, whether you can ever truly hold on to something, and why we clutch on to nostalgia.
Following our Manchester run, one critic described LOOP as “potentially the first play to articulate the stunted hopes of generation austerity” – which is a great quote, and as the title suggests, the characters do find themselves in a self-perpetuating cycle, but in spite of whether or not they achieve their dreams and ambitions (and you’ll have to come to Edinburgh to find out!), we like to think that one of the major themes is Hope. Being able to find hope even when it looks like there is none, and being able to face whatever the future holds.
There are so many ways to tell stories, tackle issues, explore ideas - why theatre?
The immediacy. Without a doubt, the immediacy. If you’re watching a film, it’s immortalised, it’s there on the screen and, if you’re at home, it can be paused or turned off, and even if it’s at the cinema, it can be ignored. But in a theatre, in sharing a story with the people telling it, there and then, completely live, and indeed, alive – there’s nothing to beat it. You have a dialogue with the audience, and it’s always different, it’s always there in front of them, and it’s utterly immediate. That’s why theatre as a form of storytelling is the most affecting, the most tangible, and will, we think, endure.
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
‘Dust’ at the Soho Theatre was, as everyone who has seen it will know, a piece of theatre that will stay in the mind for years afterwards. Haunting, horrific – genuinely, upsettingly horrible to watch – and also, impossibly, funny. Really very funny. To walk that line between being as desperate and as tragic a situation as you can imagine, and still make you laugh out loud, within minutes of each other, is an achievement that cannot be stated enough. It was incredible. Personally, I don’t know if I could watch it again, but everyone should see it. We’re sure it’ll make a return.
What else in the Edinburgh Fringe programme are you excited to see?
‘Tipping the Velvet’ by the Italia Conti Ensemble is a play that couldn’t be more important for the times. The story of women’s rights, set in the dark, seedy world of Victorian music hall, with anachronistic songs and memorable characters – if you like Moulin Rouge, this show will be worth a watch.
Also, ‘Weird’ by Some Riot Theatre, the extract of which we saw at the Arcola Theatre, promises to be a brilliantly written and performed solo show. If the full production is as good as the extract, it’ll be amazing.
LOOP is at Underbelly Cowgate at 5:20pm throughout August!