A few weeks ago, I decided to treat myself on a cold Wednesday evening and venture out to see CYT’s Fading. What followed was a night of wonderfully original theatre that spoke straight to the heart.
Fading was an exploration of that terrifying time in life when you find yourself suddenly on the precipice of childhood, staring into that dark, murky future of ‘adulthood’. You’re told that you have to step forward, but as you make your way, you begin to realize that you haven’t got the foggiest idea how to adult. The parts of Fading that explored this mounting sense of terror have stayed with me for weeks. The highly metaphorical way those involved in Fading chose to tackle this meant that for me, the raw emotional state of this time was conveyed with honestly and without compromise. I could literally see what it feels like to have a hundred different demands placed upon you and knowing you have to meet all of them, despite the fact that many directly contradict each other! There was a scene in which the cast paced across the floor, trying to cram all these demands into their heads and their overlapping voices created a maddening cacophony. The cast had these demands literally yelled at them as they marched forward and back. At the end of this sequence, the cast member who had lead them in this strange march turned to them, and with heartbreaking panic written all over her face she asked them if they had ever felt that ‘failure is not an option’.
While this sense of rising panic was something I felt throughout the piece, there were also wonderful moments of hilarity. There were laugh-out-loud moments, like when the cast narrated (through the most tightly executed physical theatre I’ve seen) the story of a young boy meeting Santa for the first time, and kicking himself for not asking to meet Santa’s reindeer. And a recurring sequence of a bear hunt, where the cast had to tackle everything from a cross-dressing crocodile to a cow that used it’s udders as a formidable weapon.
But here is what I loved the most about the piece, and why I think it was to me a perfect exploration of that rocky, murky time in our lives; it made you laugh and cry at the same time. When the bear hunt cumulates in the bear itself marching onto stage, the theatre exploded with laughter. But then you also realize that these cast members had spent so long diligently hunting for that elusive prize without ever really thinking they’d get there or even what they’d do afterwards that when they see the bear, they just let it go. Throughout the show, the cast are involved in building a well (illustrated through gorgeous text and the use of soft spotlight) which they approach with the same attitude as the bear hunt; follow the blue-print, shoot for this goal, don’t ask why. It’s just what you’re supposed to do. At the end of the piece, the cast pause. They look around. And suddenly, they see all kinds of wells, all kinds of possibilities, none of them contained in the blueprint they followed for so long. Slowly, they begin to step away from that safety net and step into the unknown. They will continue work on this well. But they will do it their own way.
All in all, for me Fading was a beautiful and poignant post-dramatic exploration of that time in our lives when we are told that the fun is over; now we need to put our heads down and work hard if we want to ‘make it’. With a gorgeous script, a strong ensemble and wonderfully simple yet effective lighting, sound and set ideas, it was an hour of my life that whizzed past before I knew it. It left me feeling a little stronger to navigate this murky, dark ‘adulthood’ place. I’ve no blueprint to guide me, no dot on the horizon to follow, but slowly, step by step, we’ll make it.
Viewed by Isha Menon, CYT Alumni, Viewed 2018