portents : a sign of the times

(1) a sign or warning that a momentous or calamitous event is likely to happen
(2) an exceptional or wonderful person or thing

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times

On the day of the show I woke up crying. I’d had my first proper scary dream in a very long time. The kind of dream where someone you love dies and you wake up thinking it’s real.

I’ve had some weird dreams before. I remember when I was like 13 I dreamed my leg got sawn in half (down the middle, so I had half a foot left) and the inside looked like a watermelon with all the black pips sticking out. It was quite vivid n a bit gross

It’s the only dream I’ve ever properly remembered in quite so much detail. And that’s gotta mean something, right?

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times

Nat Norland’s play Portents (produced by his new company Why This Sky) feels like one of those strange dreams you can’t quite shake out of your head. A figure with tinfoil covering their face like a squished mask walks through the audience at the beginning and it kinda makes my skin crawl. Idk, tin foil is one of those materials that kinda gives me goose bumps, I think it’s the sound it makes when it’s ripped off of a roll. Strange.

Portents is full of different conversations. Three performers – Ben Kulvichit, Clara Potter-Sweet, Ross Hunter – dressed in black, turning pages at exactly the same time, talk about a jigsaw of scenarios relating to aliens, conspiracies and signs.

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times

From Roswell, to a celebrity convincing a television audience of conspiracies, to a highly entertaining reading of a conspiracy internet forum (by far one of the strongest sections), there’s a whole host of strange and wacky ideas to get your teeth in to, The trio of performers read extremely well, holding the audiences with just a glance or moment of breath.

I guess the show can seem a bit out of reach because its subject matter – and form – can be difficult to grasp at. There’s little action on the stage [which can be read as both positive and negative] so tuning in to quite dense non-narrative dialogue can be difficult for some. But the payoff is worth it.

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times

The dialogue is gorgeous, but it’s the weirdness I think I’d like to see be developed more. There’s a section to the Harry Styles song ‘Sign of the Times’ which features tinfoil, lip syncing, wine, and a phone, which I just loved and would definitely like to see more in the piece, perhaps moreso than overlapping dialogue.

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the time

Alongside the kooky subject matter and the tinfoil covering the old church’s pillars and wall, Norland’s writing is delicate and carefully crafted, drawing on very human feelings and a soft tenderness. There’s a mesmerising section in which Clara plays a woman who feels she is floating to space and can’t come back, and has locked herself in her room. Ross, playing a man who – I assume – is in love with her, pleads for her to come out, and to no avail simply asks her to ‘come back soon’. It’s such a simple request and reminds me of a lot of things: friends who come and go, mental health struggles, the feeling of wanting to go back to the past. Just hit me in the feels a bit.

In short: a kooky play looking at conspiracies and signs, delicately crafted and handled. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Just stop your crying it’ll be alright
They told me that the end is near
We gotta get away from here




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