You could almost be forgiven for feeling comfortable, going into No-one is Coming to Save You. Bunker Two is an intimate, dimly-lit venue, and you’re greeted by a smiling steward, who hands you a piece of paper and requests that you write down “something that makes you feel okay” (I sing in the shower, so I inscribed accordingly.) The house music is original also— peppy, bright synthesizers weave in and out of one-another. There’s a pretty adorable little TV also, one you could probably visualise in a living room from the 1970’s; it’s an atmosphere of belonging...
...an atmosphere that becomes steadily permeated with tension and anxiety, as each of the two performers (Rudolphe Mdlongwa and Agatha Elwes, respectively) begins to speak, outlining a pair of separate, imaginary scenes that are at once domestic and unnerving. The normality of each piece of dialogue is undercut by foreboding delivery, bloody imagery, nausea and existential dread. With its speculation, nervousness and grotesque whimsy, I’m reminded a bit of Stanley Donwood. No one is Coming to Save You splices together a dance segment, Hawaiian shirts and a homely mundanity with allusions to climate change, harrowing imagery and the nagging fear of growing older that every young person I’ve ever met is afflicted by. Everyone in the audience seemed very emotionally involved, not least the actors. Mdlongwa’s somewhat clipped, formal delivery made him feel like a truly dominant presence in the tight claustrophobia of Bunker 2. Elwes’ expressive facial acting and deft vocal control embodied something quite opposite; there was a manic energy to her performance. Her stage presence, combined with the goriness of some of the subject matter (and indeed, the fake blood all over her face) left me feeling a little unsure for my safety...in an apposite way.
There is a moment where both actors stand, in silence, for about half a minute. It’s as impactful as the score is, and for me I think a show is well-weighted if it can juxtapose silence and music, using each to the same degree of efficacy. It’s the subtleties of No One is Coming to Save You that make it the cohesive experience that it is. The self-referential prop use, audience involvement and sensory variation leaves you deeply unnerved. By the time I’d left, however, I felt somewhat sure “everything was going to be okay.”
No One is Coming to Save You is a play by Nathan Ellis and directed by Charlotte Fraser, with design input and choreography from the rest of This Noise, an emergent English Theatre Company. Their Fringe run lasts from the 2 to the 27 of August, and you can catch them in Bunker Two, at the Pleasance Courtyard at 12:30pm. I think I’ll go back— no amount of shower-karaoke has quite cured my existential dread yet.