"It was easy to come, and it will be easy to leave."
These are one of the first words you hear when you begin, and one of the last you hear before it ends. (It makes a lot more sense at the end than the start.)
A list of seemingly random questions.
A list of even more random actions.
A human connection.
Here's how it began.
Needless to say, I was very, very intrigued. Immersive theatre is something I've been rather keen on exploring and this seemed to be the pinnacle of immersion. This performance sounded extraordinarily contemporary, exploratory, unpredictable. Different. So I did what any intrigued thespian would do and signed up.
I don't think the performance began when the narrator started speaking, or when the other person on the line picked up. For me, it started as soon as I bought my ticket a week ago. The thrill and trepidation of knowing I'd be spending an hour in the company of one total, complete stranger as the day of the show drew nearer seemed to be a part of the experience: a sense of awaiting. Awaiting a voice. Awaiting a conversation. Awaiting a shared journey. And the excitement of dialing in without knowing who would pick up, or where they would be from, what gender they'd be, how old they would sound, how well they would speak English, if there would be some profound connection immediately, if you've just found a new best friend, what the person would mean to you by the end... there's a lot of detail you pay attention to when all you get is a voice, slightly marred through the phone, with all the cadences, lilts and crescendos of natural human speech.
And then somehow, over the course of fifty minutes, you've shared a whole chunk of personal thoughts and memories with a stranger you only just met, who might not even be living in the same country. In that fifty minutes, I'd told the other person about the safety of sleeping next to my grandfather, sung my mother's favourite song, disclosed that no, I do not have any tattoos, the only person I've carried is my dog, I was born in 2002, I haven't been to Spain. And in that fifty minutes, I'd learnt how the person was sitting at that moment, a string of information they had memorised, a picture of them as a child, the rhythm of their heartbeat, the fact that yes, they were alive when I was born, how their ancestors lived, the sound of their voice. With the information we'd been given - minimal physical features and an understanding of fragments of each other's lives - we were left to piece the other together. In fifty minutes, I had an image of whoever was on the other end of the call. I knew someone, or as much as I could from what I'd been given, a Person.
Running parallel to our existence in our bedroom/living room/wherever the call was taken was an overnight journey in a desert, in the middle of nowhere, that the narrator, audience member and I were part of. Just us three. In one hour, without leaving my room, I'd forged a new memory of a road trip gone wrong and a starlit slumber with Narrator and Person. I'd hummed "Angel of Music" from Phantom to them. Our car had broken down. We'd walked to what seemed like the end of the world. Person told me that stars existed in different galaxies. Narrator wore a white shirt. Person made a fire. I asked if Narrator was awake. Three of us lay back and counted stars together.
Interspersed with this intimate sharing of experiences was soft laughter, hesitation, silences and the occasional "So... what are we supposed to do again?" (the narrator doesn't repeat herself). It was the formation of a connection. The divulging of information even some of our closest friends wouldn't know. A faceless confidante. And finally,
"You are somewhere in the world. Hold on to me.
The line goes dead.