Prove your humanity

Performed in a theatre in the round stage style, Floor Thirteen, directed by Marshall Stay and written by Elise Wilson was an alternative, thought-provoking piece of theatre. It was set in an elevator stuck between floors where the protagonist, Phoebe, mulls over the events of the night that led her to this spot, all the while nursing a bottle of Moet.

Floor Thirteen opened with a technical hum of an apartment building—an ominous soundscape of electricity and various buzzing noises. The first view the audience got of the performance, was Phoebe caged in a rectangular prism covered in sheer material, which allowed audio visual projections to take place throughout the show. This created a semi-transparent wall between the physical world that she was locked in and the anxiety addled construction of her memories. These were designed by Marshall Stay—the set, sound and AV designer for the show.

The minimalistic set aided to emphasize the contribution of physical theatre to tell the story instead. Four performers initially stalked the central elevator, their bodies dimly lit by the structure, which caused them to appear eerily mysterious. As Phoebe began her somewhat internal monologue, explaining what had just happened at the party she’d attended, the performers lip synced her words and wildly exaggerated her actions. I really enjoyed this manner of retelling as the movement they used was symbolic in parts but also so over dramatised, which added a humorous element to the performance. This humour was needed, as what started out as an innocent yet unfortunate night, quickly became an unravelling stream of Phoebe’s guilty conscience. It was interesting how the exaggerated physical theatre transformed from comical to manic desperation as the performance progressed and the audience slowly began to realise what they were truly witnessing instead.

A goldfish motif was explored throughout the show, as it reflected Phoebe’s lack of memory, or more importantly, her selection of memory. In her retelling of the events at the party, there was an emphasis on the wall-length aquarium filled with goldfish, which at first was met with absurdity and ridiculousness. What seemed like a trivial detail, became a pathway for Phoebe to gloat about her selfless and charitable personality; the actions she might take to help her family or any old goldfish that might be stuck in a filter. It quickly became apparent that from an outsider’s perspective she may indeed seem charitable, but it was all a desperate façade to gain attention—a substitute for the lack of receiving it from her father.

The performance then delved into Phoebe’s experience with the middle child, daddy-issue-riddled syndrome that has controlled her for most of her life. She realised, with the help from the faceless voice of the electrician who was working to get her out of the elevator, she has in fact been working for the attention of her father her entire life. It was saddening for the audience to witness this as she huddled in the corner of the small elevator and explained it all, pity elicited from the viewers.

Floor Thirteen was very cleverly written and constantly had the minds of the audience whirring with questions about what might occur next. What began as long-winded tale about a disastrous night at a party, transformed into a cold, hard view at accepting responsibility for one’s actions. As the audience was allowed a peek into the mind of another’s guilty conscience, it raises questions about what they too might discover about themselves if they were trapped in an elevator and forced to face their own inner demons…

Floor Thirteen is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until July 13th!

For more information and tickets visit Blue Room’s website.