“What did you think?” I asked Daisy.
My heart was still pounding, and had been for the entirety of the production—that’s how utterly powerful Arteries by Ancestry was.
For an hour, in the intimacy of the Blue Room Theatre, Noah Jimmy and Haydon Wilson enthralled—the energy they created palpable.
The play began with a peculiar diatribe about the effect of plastic on the environment that established a quiet intensity in the audience.
Thrown into a dystopian world dictated by environmentalists, we followed Avery (Jimmy) as he attempted to overcome where he came from while fallibly attempting to figure out where he was going. As the play unfolded, Wilson shifted characters; first as Avery’s father, then as his lover, Sebastian, and as a sort of pseudo-narrator.
Attention was demanded, and it was not taken for granted, as the play tackled a number of complicated issues, including hyper-masculinity, queerness, and environmental degradation. The characters constructed in Avery and Sebastian were enchanting three-dimensional representations of queerness, while the relationship portrayed between Avery and his father offered a gruelling depiction of the consequences of telling a boy to be a ‘man’, and all of the pernicious implications that it carries.
The lighting and audio effects contributed significantly to the harrowing atmosphere of the production, which was heightened further by the organisation of The Blue Room Theatre into a profile stage that created an eclectic intimacy between the performers and the audience. The man sitting in front of me could have reached out and brushed Jimmy as he flitted past if he had wanted to.
Initially, I silently cursed myself for not placing myself in his position, but as the play progressed I was thankful for the slight distance between myself and the visceral, often confronting, performance.
At moments I flinched, words like blows, and at others my chest ached.
It’s abstract presentation may make it difficult to understand, but it was through this unusual approach that they were able to address a difficult subject matter. Arteries blurred the boundaries of form and space and produced something gut-wrenching in a beautiful way.
I had entered the theatre with a gin and tonic and I hadn’t taken a single sip—paralysed by the performance, by the dialogue woven in the mind of James McMillan—terrifying and beautiful.
When the performance ended I had a cigarette on the balcony, threw back the gin and asked Daisy what she thought.
“I didn’t really understand it,” Daisy replied.
“But didn’t you feel it?”
Perhaps Arteries is difficult to comprehend but it is evocative and powerful—what more do you need to understand?
Arteries by Ancestry is running at The Blue Room Theatre until September 2