Dressed in smart office attire, a woman walks onto the stage. In one corner is an empty chair, a rotary dial phone in the opposite corner. She settles in, as if she is waiting to be called for an interview. The automated message of an answering machine reassures her, “Hello, all of our operators are currently busy, please wait”, followed by a nagging computerised version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.
Using the hollow and overpolite jargon of customer service, the voice invites the woman to follow a set of instructions. Blindly, she starts fulfilling the requests, whilst we begin to wonder just how far she’s willing to go. Tension builds when we realise that the tasks are increasingly humiliating, pedantic. The woman’s blind obedience is unsettling. In the most sinister feat, her body becomes an object, entirely subservient to the computer. Driven by a helpless urge to please, she satisfies its every demand, oblivious to those who might be behind the machine. This resounds as a metaphor of modern cyber-communication. Private pictures are often taken naively, then sent out to please someone, with disregard for the boundless connectivity and sharing potential of our devices. Before we know it, they can be all over the web.
The only issue with this performance could be its length. At last year’s Fringe it was one half of a double bill, a mere thirty minutes. Doubling its running time incurs a serious risk of becoming repetitive. The looped messages, which are at first amusing, then more disturbing, are just numbing as the time elapses, their sense of purpose growing weaker.
The Sensemaker is a dystopic portrayal of the arbitrary nature of bureaucracy, a sobering criticism of our blind trust in automated devices. Elsa Couvreur is an insightful artist, who demonstrates utmost dedication to her work.
After Edinburgh, this show will be travelling to a number of international Fringe festivals, including Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Turkey and Italy.
Concept, Choreography, Interpretation and Soundtrack By: Elsa Couvreur
Producer: Woman’s Move
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sensemaker
Booking Until: 26 August 2019