The Making of Us @ Tramway

Review by Andrew Cattanach | 30 Apr 2012
  • Graham Eatough, Graham Fagen and Michael McDonough, The Making of Us, Production still

A collaboration between theatre director Graham Eatough and artist Graham Fagan, working alongside director of photography Michael McDonough, The Making of Us combines elements of performance, art installation and film. The project sees Eatough and Fagan working together for the second time in an interdisciplinary work that has the audience members complicit from the outset.

Billed as a promenade performance, the audience is encouraged to roam around the space while the scenes are acted out and the camera crew films the action. We become part of the spectacle, us onlookers, filmed watching the scenes unfold, passively observing as a tragedy takes place right before our eyes, the whole time participating in the lead character’s downfall.

Before entering the space we are told to sign a disclaimer that allows the camera crew to film us. The signed yellow form in turn takes on a significant role in the performance, becoming a recurring motif throughout. More or less as soon as the cameras start rolling, the lead character, a moment ago simply roaming around with us, is encouraged to sign an identical yellow form. Once signed, his fortunes drastically change and by the end of the performance we see him coerced into hanging himself from a tree – right before our eyes.

A cross between Lars von Trier’s Dogville and Franz Kafka’s The Trial, the passive, almost bureaucratic, setup is the show’s most unsettling aspect. The film crew goes about its business shooting the scenes, we watch as the main character, ostensibly one of us – an audience member – is sentenced to death, and even the stage manager lends a hand, holding the ladder as our ill-fated hero climbs up to hang himself. The whole time we watch on as the action unfolds, as a man hangs himself right before our eyes, dangling there for what seems like an age before the director finally says cut.