Any reference to Nick Cave is going to pique my interest and so with an open mind I take in this production by We Talk of Horses theatre company on what happens to be the last day of their performance.
Two main characters enthusiastically joust for centre stage (up here) while the other lies ‘down there’ on the floor. One deluded that he is Australia’s most celebrated bard while the other initially seems to council as his psychotherapist. Let’s call them ‘Nick and Non Cave’, the latter of whom also wrestles with his own affections for the girl of his dreams when afforded the spotlight.
Back to Nick, sporadically throughout the show for his confessions on drug addiction, I give until I can’t give any more…and then I take. Also a justification of his frequently homicidal lyrics, For every knife wielding maniac [in his songs] is a soul in profound agony. This battle between good and evil is acknowledged as a theme in Cave’s work, celebrating “lust, hunger, rage and love” as our storyteller suggests.
Herein the tortured tale of an unfulfilled obsession with a beautiful trapeze artist. The circus imagery, evoking scenes of Wings of Desire might act as something of a segue between our two main characters. Non describes with passion but painfully the paradox of falling in love. While this can be “as the poets, painters and rock gods have it” also the worst thing to ever happen to an individual. “Sometimes you see the person of your dreams and everything unravels and falls apart”. This devastation harks back to similar observations from Cave himself in his Secret Life of the Love Song lectures and both the script and pointed delivery of You Down Here… remain stylistically true in tribute to him.
That the performers are admirers is apparent, despite their in-character criticisms that he may be thought of, by others, as “whiney” or “morbid”. “For the fans” Red Right Hand is namedropped and the lifting of other lyrics from The Mercy Seat and The Ship Song feels contrived when not expanded upon.
Jack Kerouac is also quoted and we are educated as to the ‘Pinocchio Paradox’ and other philosophical concepts. “Time is running out and memories are slipping through a hole” eventually. As the characters talk over each other towards a frantic crescendo, they protest to us “I am a misshapen bag of stuff; I don’t know who I am” and ultimately in exasperation “I’m really not following!” By this point I wondered how many of the captive audience felt the same.
For more on the Greenside Venues Festival Programme click here.