Arches Live Friday 17 September

Blog by Colin Chaloner | 24 Sep 2010
  • The Arches

As a man with strong feelings about superfluous punctuation, Not_With (Music) did not immediately endear itself to me. But I like a good sound installation and I decided to get stuck in straight away, listening to ambient noise and snippets of conversation, recording little vignettes on the tape recorder, and airing my views through the abandoned mic. Throughout my shenanigans a record lay turning, and little medical vials of shit and piss lay accusingly beside bags of half eaten crisps and sweets, reminding me just how much processed garbage is already half digested by the time it's vacuum sealed. "Music's a human centipede", it seemed to declare. "The record industry fires it's sonic bile through your guts day after day, and here you are, mic and tape recorder in hand, primed to pass your own feeble audio-stool on to your compadres, having greedily hoovered up the artist's offering". And it's true, I barely consider the origin or the effects of our relentless musical diet, and no doubt I suffer for it. Fortunately the Daily Mail has considered it, and what's more, they've got the answer: criminalise all the bad stuff. You can read their thoughtful and provocative observations on how music kills children here.


Anyone amused by the ludicrous and arbitrary prohibition of an innocent childhood pastime will enjoy Scotch-Hop, a fascinating imaginary history of how the game of Hopscotch came to be seen as a sinister expression of occult forces. An abundance of text, illustrations and audio material outlines in wonderfully plausible detail the significance of the lines, of casting the stone, and of progression and inversion within the ritual. Manic, wall-to-wall Art-Brut scrawlings build an atmosphere of claustrophobia and oppression, while two cases of evidence - one displaying familiar literature, prohibited for it's references to the game, the other filled with meticulously labelled chalk pieces - lent something tangible to the vision.

From this compelling fib, I made my way to Brandy and Summer Gloves, an account of old age grounded in verbatim contributions from real people. The show sees Ugly Pup turn an Arches basement into something cosy and homely, and having the performers addressing you directly, sitting relaxed and comfortable among the audience, brought a genuine warmth to proceedings. It was a delightful demonstration of how natural verbatim theatre can be as compared to scripted performance, and a pleasing reminder of the narrative legacy that exists within any family.