I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain @ ZOO Playground
Part of the Horizon Showcase, Aidan Moesby's poignant storytelling brings into focus the relationships we share as people
What does the changing weather have to teach us about loneliness? I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain is a storytelling project by writer and artist Aidan Moesby, the performance synthesis of an artistic practice that has long been preoccupied with the internal and external idiosyncrasies of the weather.
The set design is simple and clean, with live plants which work beautifully with the artist’s white hair and costume. Moesby’s multidisciplinary background shows through in a clear eye for layout and space. Within this space, he sits at his desk and speaks. The piece is slow, careful, quiet, rambling at times. As an audience member you are forced to slow down with him, go where he’s taking you. The script blends stories from the artist’s life with musings on contemporary life, mental illness and, of course, the weather. Loneliness and atomisation feeds environmental destruction which feeds disconnection and illness. As Moesby wryly points out: “Even my temporary madness contributes to climate change.” The show is consistently poignant, but is never allowed to slide into a hard-shelled cynicism or tedious negativity. The way Moesby talks about loneliness makes me want to reach out and hug him, or my friends, or the person next to me. The work is striking in its vulnerability.
This is further emphasised by the fact that Moesby doesn’t seem all that relaxed onstage, and the piece overall is less slickly polished than many other festival offerings. His eyes flick frequently to the laptop screen from which he is reading, and the use of lighting and sound is sometimes a little distracting in both the suddenness of its changes and occasional problems with volume. However, these issues for the most part add to the texture of the piece rather than detracting from it; it feels you are sharing a space with a human trying to communicate, rather than an actor trying to create a suspension of disbelief. It brings into focus the relationships we share as people – performer and audience, artist and critic, audience and audience. It makes watching a show in the dark feel a lot less lonely.
I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain, ZOO Playground (Playground 1), 26-28 Aug, 2pm, £10-13