Drone @ Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Harry Josephine Giles' new piece Drone is sad, funny, beautiful and relatable
Before the chatter dies down, a drone takes front and centre stage, followed by the metallic-clad poet and performer Harry Josephine Giles – or, to us, Drone. Giles at once reflects us and stands opposite us (literally and metaphorically) as we listen to their life as both a weapon of mass destruction and, terrifyingly, a woman on self-destruct.
Drone combines music, visuals and poetry in a unique blend of theatrical authority and for a full hour demands our totally absorbed attention. Drone is just like us; she has a pizza-delivery man as a brother, dabbles in veganism, buys a cat and fails at seducing businessmen. More interestingly, she suffers millennial burnout and is seconded to a conservation facility where she returns to question the morality of her life choices. Her therapist tells her, "You have work and love that fulfils you". She corrects him: "All I have is bombs".
Of course, in reality, all she does have is bombs. She is a drone. But Drone is so much more than hard metallics and glitter: Giles glides about the stage with adept physicality, at once centre-stage and then in the aisles, flirting with sound artist Neil Simpson as he mixes the soundtrack life, and then slamming their head into a filing cabinet under the eyes of visual artist Jamie Wardrop, locking us out. Giles' dialogue as spoken word has a similar effect, drawing us in with loop-pedals, creating echo chambers and then slamming us out again, literally at the touch of a button.
Drone is entirely immersive, heightened all the more by Wardrop and Simpson’s visuals. This isn’t to say it’s relaxing, as at times the live soundtrack is so loud and jarring we begin to assume Drone’s discombobulation. Both Giles’ writing and the physicality of Drone’s bodily performance achieves the impossible: making a weapon of war feel humane. It was more about war, though; Drone circles themes of millennialism, micro-management and business-warfare, the dynamics of the office and the unique characteristics of feminine experience. It is sad, and funny, and beautiful and relatable. Giles' performance is exuberant, attractive and addictive to watch. Drone is a beautiful relic of the tragedy of human warfare, a fractured retelling of female experience that serves to remind us that perhaps the biggest and longest war is the one occurring from within, always.