In the foyer downstairs by bar is a confessional, with red Monsignor curtains. A would-be confident asks if we would we like to confess our own terrible things? Inside are shelves, a bonbon jar and cake. I’m madly tempted to do a terrible thing there are then and pocket one of them for later. An old fashioned red telephone elicits attention. Talk to me, talk to me says its presence alone. I resist, stoically and leave sans cake.
Invisible Ink have developed a collection of real life confessions that have been collected mostly locally, over time into a series of dialogues delivered by just three actors.
Lynn enjoys sex; lots of it, in lots of places. As she starts to list exactly where, audience shy giggles turn into incredulous uproar. In the changing room at Top Shop. In church – during a wedding? Lynne Hunter, the actor delivering this tale, is late-middle aged. It’s probably time we all started to get over ourselves and our mild shock about mams and sex, but she does play her character with delicious uproar.
But forget about that for its blush count. The next confession imagines a former pupil being able to apologise for making a sexually compromising mock-up photo of her teacher, then posting it on the school Facebook. But with a horse? These people walk amongst us.
With the action taking place on Chapter’s theatre floor-space, some ingenious bespoke stage furniture like an oversized kid’s wooden shape set provides just enough fruit for the imagination to help us see the scenes.
So many of these stories seem to have been bottled up for years. One confession that’s told over chapters by Hannah McPake, tells of an affair with a married man, Francois Pandolfo, that eventually ends in victory but is followed rapidly by tragedy. It has a certain dignity and a recognisable rationale that separates it from most of the other, newly set free deep memories.
But what is a terrible thing? Is it something we have done – or perhaps haven’t done when we know we really should’ve? The one thing all tonight’s confessions of terrible things have in common is the feeling of guilt. No guilt? No-one’s stepped up to tell the story. Hmmm, interesting, that one.
But not every confessor is a perpetrator. Two young hitchhikers end up in the middle of nowhere compromised into giving their driver a… ahem. Icky.
Another person several times prays to be delivered from temptation, with that temptation being cake. Children have bullied siblings, a driver has been haunted for not helping a cat he ran over and some child left their playmate in the boot of a car for six hours.
And as the play ends, what now? What do you do now? Hannah asks as spokesperson, her plea wanting, hoping vainly for absolution, forgiveness or at the very least, understanding. What indeed to do now, now that volcanic secrets have been spewed into the public sphere? Many of these stories seem to have come from spontaneous errors of judgement, like that time when the less civilised components of every one of us can take the floor, fighting an imagine injustice, a greed, a lust or because of a basic lack of empathy for who they (we) were hurting. What indeed now?
Cake. Cake is the answer. Let it all go and give in to cake. And the three actors do. Ramming their faces with the indulgent, sweet sticky stuff and inviting us to get some too as they look as free as children.
Being human can be a funny old thing.
Hannah McPake, Lynn Hunter and Francois Pandolfo
Hannah McPake, Francois Pandolfo and Lynn Hunter