As I watched The Container by Claire Bayley, I couldn’t help but marvel at how effortlessly it blurred the line between live and recorded performance. My mind knew that it was a video and that the scope of this only extended as far as my 13-inch screen, but the experience took up much more space than that. Space was a huge theme in this piece, of course, and the filming of it did an incredible job to illuminate that. As I was watching, I became very interested in the creation of stage pictures in such a confined, “in the round” theater. Despite the restrictions, I was struck by how beautiful the ”pictures” of this production were. The lighting was spontaneous, the relationships were complicated, and the sweat and tears of their faces were dripping on each other—completely immersive is a good way to describe the experience.
The content of the play was so fit to be squished into a small, intimate space. The Container addressed a remote issue in a local, personal space. It made what we consider distant, close. One can only imagine what it’s actually like to be stuck inside something life-threatening. This theatre experience challenges the imagination to include all five senses.
I was especially invigorated by the relationships the women formed in this play. They displayed strength in moments of crisis and were able to talk about things other then their relationships with men. They spoke of strength, new life, companionship, and hope. It seems impossible to encounter women written into plays that have these kinds of conversations. This was refreshing and well fleshed out.
I was curious about the outreach this production was able to maintain with such a small audience capacity. It also challenged me to question whether that is how to measure the success of this production anyway. The production’s true success comes from its new story, diverse casting opportunities, and challenging theatrical vocabulary.
Lastly, The Container, most distinctly engaged in a thorough and passionate dialogue about the experience of a people not often portrayed in the theatre.