Guy Dartnell, Would Say Something

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

If we could say what we really want to say, what is it that we would say, and how would it sound? This is the question that Guy Dartnell seems to be asking both of himself and of this audience, in this vocally dazzling and often moving solo performance.

Dartnell uses his considerable skills to unearth the real aspects of language and communication – those aspects that are usually concealed or lost beneath the formality of words, grammar and public speech. By reinvesting words and their sounds with a profound emotional meaning (his search for the truthfulness of language reminds me of Artaud’s battle cry for a speech beyond words), the performance cannily pinpoints the unsayable, unspeakable, inarticulable concealments that are often squashed beneath language’s propriety. And the performance acts as a release valve to let them pour out – and how they pour!

In a torrent of sound, invested with real joy and playfulness (vitally underpinned by Toby Park’s live music), Dartnell manages to find a fusion of character, physical engagement and voice that is rarely seen on the British stage (where the dry sensibilities of our theatre too often deny real profundity). Employing a style clearly influenced by Improbable Theatre, with which Dartnell is a regular collaborator – all audience interaction, welcoming the latecomers, and exposing the mechanics of theatre itself – this show, although self-consciously not well crafted, and, oddly, perhaps not even very engaging, clearly sets out its aims, and even more clearly fulfils them through a witty, skilful and emotive performance.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 21