In a small basement room everyone is wearing a mask. A girl sticks her tongue through the mouth slot and her friend giggles, but the mask’s plastic expression remains stern. Two performers bound in cling film clamp a second mask on us all, this time with no eyes. Everything goes dark.
Awakening forces us to consider our other senses, as a performance happens around us and strange things happen to us. With the only light visible being the blurred glow escaping up through the mask’s nostril slits, the choice is between continuing to strain in the darkness, or closing one’s eyes and just letting it happen. Whatever ‘it’ is.
A fantastic soundscape, designed by Miguel de Lis, contains suggestions of narrative but nothing concrete: a swarm of bees, a lullaby, a girl’s voice.
Rather than being a constraint, the masks are in fact quite liberating. They are a reminder of all the visual noise that can drown out a show. A Parma Violet smell lingers in the air, the rustle of the performers’ makeshift shells hints that they might be close. As hands are guided to strangers’ shoulders and familiar-feeling objects are thrust into our palms we get to decide how we respond: to accept or reject.
Nitroglicerina’s show is a well crafted piece, abstract enough to allow each participant to come to their own conclusions about the show’s meaning. But with only two performers, there are long periods during which it seems as if nothing is happening. It’s a short, unusual and strangely freeing experience.