A word of warning: if you’ve got a flight booked anytime soon, I wouldn’t recommend going to see the accident did not take place. YESYESNONO’s show – acclaimed at the Edinburgh Fringe and now on at HOME as part of Orbit Festival – uses the premise of a plane crash observed from the ground to explore themes of truth, information, reconstruction and reliability. The central plot point is reminiscent of the MH370 disaster, but instead of honing in on the event, the work focuses on an individual passenger on the flight – his experience, his past and his loved ones’ memories of him.
In an unusual twist, this character is played by a guest actor (different each night) who performs from the script unsighted, alongside a cast of three. It’s a clever way to map out the story, with the cast directing the newcomer as the performance progresses, bringing results that are improvised, naturalistic and often humorous.
It’s a fascinating exercise in theatre too – the scene in which the main character realises the plane is going to crash is repeated countless times to bring out different tones; his movements are lit, filmed and live streamed onto a screen with subtitles; he is hot seated with an endless stream of prompts (‘show me what you look like when you’re in love’).
It would be interesting to see how this fresh and unconventional format varies each night with its new cast member, but zooming in so closely on an individual does sometimes feel like a missed opportunity – there’s no sense of the disaster on a bigger scale, with newsflashes, rumours and online hysteria (as suggested by the show’s premise). Describing the work as ‘dance-filled’ is also a bit of a stretch – there is plenty of repeated movement, but nothing rhythmic or expressive.
Nonetheless, this is a refreshing, funny and thought-provoking take on the ‘post-truth age’ by a talented young company.★ ★ ★ ★
The Accident Did Not Take Place presented by YESYESNONO is at Home, Manchester on 27 and 28 September 2019 as part of the Orbit Festival 2019. Please note this show is not suitable for people under 16 years of age.