There’s a certain unique charm in going to the theatre blind. Without any foreknowledge of the actors, a synopsis, or even the vaguest understandings of what the hell is going on, it keeps you on edge, ready to absorb whatever is headed your way with rapt attention. But, this strategy might backfire slightly in the oddest of circumstances.
So when having sat down in the main stage of Basement in what appeared to be an office board room, there were some nerves and apprehension about what was to come. Especially when considering Headsand was prefaced with a content warning towards “coarse and pejorative language, themes of sexual assault, the depiction of discriminatory attitudes and behaviour, depiction of violence, and themes of a dark nature.“
Certainly, the title gives bare hints to the goings on of this world created by the actors in front. The play acts through a series of scenes, some linked sporadically to each other with a vague sense of a timeline, often confusing and nonsensical to the audience. It may not be too far to call it absurdist theatre meets Greek tragedy forming in a cacophony of chaos.
Okay, that might be too arts-y of a way to describe it. But when the opening scene literally comprises of two women (you can never quite figure out their relationship to each other) screaming at each other in the midst of a fight, there’s a particular mood that’s being set. And it never really relents through the rest of the show. From one scene to the next, it’s an exploration to the extremes of emotive acting. Certainly, the Sorkin-level of rapid fire dialogue makes it harder to keep up, but the performance of the actors on stage is more than the word ‘impressive’ can impart.
And moreover, the entire piece speaks to so many issues that we’re facing everyday, from climate change to workplace bullying, to even a commentary on human connection. There’s this melting pot of ideas that are just being chucked out left, right, and centre, with this ominous sense of dread as a constant.
It’s hard to put theatre such as HeadSand in to the written word. At the very least, it’s an experience that will evoke a different reaction and sentiment from each individual audience member.
And if only for that, then this is a piece of art worth viewing.