Without doubt, one of the most clever shows I will have seen this year is going to be “Train of Thought,” a terribly fun event that took place for just barely a week. The concept, as it was explained to me, was that you would ride the tube and be able to hear the thoughts of the other riders. This massively clicks with several of my interests, most specifically, site specific performance and, um, not telepathy but the concept of a dreamtime where you experience several different layers of reality (many pasts, for example) while being aware of being in the now. (I also am interested in the Tube in general, not to a freakish level of geekishness, but enough.)
Anyway … the play was more fun than I expected, despite having many of the challenges I associate with site-specific works. (If you go to a lot of these, you realize that the vagaries of the space, especially if it is a public space, is something you just have to deal with. You’re not going to sit down in your chair and have an usher and get drinks during the interval – it’s just not how it works.) We actually met a “conductor” before the show (and were caught up with the rest of the group), but then had to wait 20 minutes for a circle line to show up.
From then on, it was pretty smooth sailing. The gig was that we had headphones on listening to a radio station, and a little FM transmitter was broadcasting to us on “The Oracle Line” (marked on a map we were given out before we boarded), which said what the names of the different stops were as we pulled up to them – and admonished us to Mind the Gap as we exited the train. It also let us in on the thoughts of our other passengers, in a series of vignettes – from the usual mindless “where’s my book” to “God, look at these pictures of us when we went to Barbados …” to “I hate my job” – but as you heard the “thoughts” played you cast your eyes about the train trying to figure out who was “thinking” them. I had total synchronicity with the “where’s my book” guy – it was really just like reading his mind! I found this ridiculously pleasant.
While I did have problems with reception at times, overall this was a great play and I can’t wait to see what Minkette will do next time!
(This review is of a performance done Friday, December 14th.)