Jim from the Wardrobe Ensemble has been invited on stage. He hasn’t seen the script before but YESYESNONO have cast him in a pivotal role. On another day, it’ll be a different volunteer. Today, gamely, Jim follows the instructions of performers Emma Clark, Tilda O’Grady and Jonathan Hawkins in a show that uses drama-school exercises to investigate the nature of truth.
“Tell me what you will look like when you’re old,” says Clark in a blitzkrieg of demands. “Tell me what you look like when you’re relaxed.” He keeps up impressively well, yet curiously, the honest attempts of the guest performer to act his honest reactions never come across as totally honest.
That’s especially the case in an exhaustively repeated sequence involving a mid-air disaster on a London to New York flight, in which poor Jim is asked endlessly to refine his performance to make it more believable. With each repetition – somewhere between grating and comic with shades of Forced Entertainment – he seems to get both closer and further from the truth; closer because of the flashes of insight, further because the scene is never fully realised.
The company could be clearer about what it is trying to get from all this. The opening quote, attributed to that great philosopher Justin Timberlake, about reality not taking place is as good as it gets. It’s not exactly about fake news, but something to do with the uncertainty of truth in a mediated world and the unknowability of people when all you have to go on are appearances. It’s lively, exploratory and done in good humour, but could be more explicit about the connection to our post-truth world.
• At Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, until 26 August.