Venue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), June 30 – July 5, 2015
Playwright: Kay Armstrong
Director: Kay Armstrong
Cast: Kay Armstrong
Meanings can be found anywhere, and in anything, but it requires that the observer draws their own conclusions on what, if anything, is being said. An Hour With Kay is abstract and absurd. The fact that time itself is highlighted by its very inclusion within the title of the work, makes us consider how we value those 60 minutes, and whether the artist Kay Armstrong justifies her procurement of the audience’s presence. Indeed, our presence is an important factor in the piece, which is characterised by an unusual freedom in Armstrong’s eagerness in incorporating our bodies and minds into the creation of a kind of theatre that is on some level, about the subversion of passive viewership. A quality of democracy figures heavily in her art. Maybe we are not in control of the action at all times, but we are certainly the ones who have to decide what it is that we experience.
Armstrong is a strong performer with excellent conviction, but she is uninterested in manipulating the resolutions we may or may not attain from participating in her work. It is about the here and now, and those 60 minutes of activity and energy that we are involved with. What happens after, is entirely reliant on our own creativity. The work is fascinating and engaging, with tempo that changes regularly, so that it evades predictability. Armstrong’s ability to surprise at every juncture keeps us intrigued, and a gentle sense of instability demands that we are attentive to what she might unleash upon us next.
An Hour With Kay satisfies with its concoction of all that is weird and wonderful, yet it challenges us, both in terms of our notions of components and definitions theatre and art, and also of our expectations as public consumers of culture. Art has the privilege of being able to take any form, and to break any rule. It is however, required to reconstitute something new in place of what it seeks to dismantle. The new is never easily understandable, but we can hope for it to connect in some way, and Kay Armstrong’s show reacquaints us with joy and wonder, which seem to become increasingly scarce with each passing year.