Lily Kind on Annie Wilson’s “At Home with Humorless Bastard”
Red-pink liquid is pooled at the center of a plastic catchment suspended from the ceiling of FringeArts. Directly below, a square of white plastic is taped to the floor. It leaves the sides of the black stage bare, like a too small tablecloth. Annie Wilson is taking a casual attendance of what’s on stage. It’s a construction site playing at ancient ruins, or the other way round, I’m not sure yet. A Dewalt construction radio is doing a great job of being egg yolk yellow. A sparse Stonehenge of Annie-sized Quikrete tubes define the space like furniture. These cardboard pillars are washed with a transparent white, milky enough to feel either sacred or clinical.
Annie’s sister died unexpectedly this summer.
The boundaries are always open. It started before we got here and it keeps going when we leave. Later, when the show resolves, Annie will open the accordion door that separates the theater from the neighboring restaurant. The door will make it’s going-sideways sound, retracting at an un-theatrical pace into the wall.
Annie’s is kicking off her slippers, admiring the big plastic drop above with its cranberry juice iris, arranging her robe, piling pillows like dead leaves. She isn’t showing us much. Instead she is making time for us to see and catalog with her. A recording of Annie’s voice, recalling a dream, floats in and out of sound consciousness.
Her left hand is held. She swings what is free, tracing around the space, a gyroscope locked in the bathroom in the middle of the night.
On her hands in knees in the corner, her spine arches and bows like striking paper matches on the matchbook. Her breath goes: in, out, in out. Day, night, day, night.
She is pouring glitter into a preset see-through plastic tub. She is drinking bubbly water. She talks to us from the tub like a lounge singer on a piano. She has great timing. She holds her breath submerged in her sparkle bucket bath. There is underwater cello music. We can hear it too. Only underwater. The lights make me think of leftovers in the fridge.
Flashlight Spotlight Monologue during which she tells us that she is usually making a dance to save the life of someone she loves.
There is the greatest cardboard tube song and dance you’ve never seen. Like swallowing a pill if the pill had to go outside your body.
Looking at the ceiling catchment, I’m thinking and admiring: You can’t fake the color of period blood. It’s the color of a life and death on your fingers, on fabric in the sink.
Annie will need us to sing along for this next part, “Some of you are like, ‘I can’t keep a tune. I hate the sound of my voice, I’m embarrassed.’ To you I say: I understand. I hate singing in public. But for our purposes your self-consciousness is way more embarrassing than anything your voice sounds like. So get over yourself and get into the song.”
It’s the hardest for the ones left behind / It’s the hardest for the ones left behind
Annie is a Bouguereau nude. “Night” suspended by a tampon string over a reflective, rugged landscape. Trailing her robe, with one elbow up as a visor, shielding herself from either the oncoming owls or the oncoming dawn.
In the only moment of explicit memory re-enactment, Annie summons a drunk woman, a stranger she encountered in public. Annie orchestrates strangers from the audience to fill in for her, to play her part in the memory. Annie invites the memory to overtake her, calling the deity to enter the devout. There is an afterimage of seeing double, working on this chiasmus:
Strange is to past as present is to intimate / Intimate is to strange as past is to present.
Burrowed into a pile of pillows, Annie holds onto a rectangle of screen glow. Watching her feels like watching a child suck their thumb. We hear Maxim Mainin drop Tatiana Totmianina at 2004 Skate America. The commentators struggle with the difference between a prayer and an elegy.
And the dead leaves pillows arranged under a blanket:
[[[GET UP. get up. GET UP. get UP. GET up]]}
When you pour concrete into one of these Quikrete tubes the concrete stays permanently forever as a column in the shape of the tube. The concrete pillar will become the foundation for a new structure. The cardboard tube dissolves or is removed. The container’s purpose is its absence. The cement is defined by its memory of the container. What a fucking metaphor you guys.
Annie Wilson’s At Home with Humorless Bastard FringeArts, Dec 1, 2016
Creator/Performer: Annie Wilson
Director: Becky Wright
Design: Lisi Stoessel
Sound: Adriano Shaplin