TRUTH TO POWER CAFE - AT THE JUNCTION
There has never been a more apt time to speak truth to power, assuming that is, that power knows how to listen. Jeremy Goldstein’s production has caught the zeitgeist by taking some considerable theatrical risks. The Junction of course is the best place to take those risks and the smallish audience last night probably felt as I did, that here was something truly different, quirky yes, slightly nuts of course, maybe a touch over-solemn, occasionally intensely moving, and humbling. Goldstein’s piece is part homage to his late father who was part of the 1950s ‘Hackney Gang’ which included the late Harold Pinter and the very much still alive actor Henry Woolf. Jeremy had a difficult relationshop with his late father a reticent poet and old-fashioned socialist. But as the years have passed since his death (six to be precise), Goldstein has grown to admire, respect and love him all the more. Using projected images, some video footage of the now mischievously aged Henry Woolf and his own simple rhyming couplets, he creates a moving sound world drawn from fragments of childhood memory. There is a poetic dreaminess about it all (helped by a moving sound score) and Goldstein is a charming, appealing yet enigmatic presence. His soft tones, gentle smile and unshowy delivery masks a deeply personal, almost confessional narrative drawing on, amongst other things, the actor’s near fatal brush with AIDS.
Just as Goldstein’s poetry, tender narrative and occasional burst of song reach their peak, he puts a lid on the proceedings, steps beyond the fourth wall to present seven members of the audience, encouraged to tell their own personal truth to an unseen power. Apparently the participants answered the call to do this weeks ago and only came in to rehearse their contributions on the day of the performance. It was a most diverse group of local folk – from gender binary Dani to Muslim woman Iman.
Each of the seven had something very important, very personal to say. Lynne with guide dog at her feet, railed against the actions of IDS when he was in charge of welfare ‘reforms’ that had demeaned and humiliated people with disabilities; one had a beef against his teachers who had demanded blind obedience of him as a child. Another audience member revealed the terrible treatment she had received as a former victim of rape and abuse. Some presented their telling in prose, others in verse. Each lasted 3-5 minutes and throughout, Goldstein sat on the edge of the stage smiling encouragingly at them.
After the final audience member had done their piece, Jeremy resumed his poetic mode set against rather beautiful monochrome photos of the seven truth-to-power tellers. It was a curious mix of nostalgia, confessional and celebration. It shouldn’t have done, but somehow it all worked. Maybe Goldstein’s message is that speaking truth to power should start with each of us, with a still small voice; a voice that must be heard.