Thrown by Jodi Gray @ Underbelly

An intimate one-woman show in which Jill Rutland shares the stage with a microphone shaped like a human head

Review by Katie Hawthorne | 22 Aug 2018

The room is hushed, quiet. Thrown is worlds apart from the shouty, beery thrum of the Cowgate, although that’s just on the other side of the wall. A woman (Jill Rutland) emerges from the gloom, professing to be a doctor, her pale face floating disembodied in the darkness. She shares the stage with a co-star, upon whom the dim spotlight is nearly always fixed: a microphone shaped like a human head. As Rutland caresses it, interrogates it, whispers in its ear, wireless headphones ensure that you hear her every breath – as intimately as if it were you in the patient’s seat. More, discarded, Styrofoam heads litter the floor, glinting like lost teeth in the dark.

Do you remember the moment that your childhood was over? Living Record Productions asked this of elderly women, and their responses are woven into this quietly discomfiting narrative, written by Jodi Gray. You’s and ‘I’s become so blurred that Thrown feels nearer to sci-fi for a moment, as if the show is set in a fictitious future in which chronology is malleable… but isn’t that just how memory works?

Chris Drohan’s sound design washes tides around your brain, and the serenity is jolted only when Rutland jerks the head on its stand, pushing it down to the height of a child before forcing it, literally, to grow up. The microphone has a powerful visual presence, but as she drags it around the stage, the sound’s 3D sense of space is flipped and changed. If once the head’s left ear matched your own left ear, it becomes the reverse. Disorienting, absolutely, but it brings about a moment – before you’re ready – when the fiction is over and you’re alone in the dark with your thoughts.

Thrown, Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly), 2-19 Aug, £11-£10

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