The end of the world as we know it...or is it?
Yellowstone, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, Jan 25 only.
If you weren't part of the audience packed into the tiny Shop Front Theatre last night (Jan 25) then you missed the first and possibly only performance of Yellowstone...
...Although it's likely that at some future point, this piece about the end of the world as we know it, written and performed by Chris Thorpe, will be enlarged or incorporated into some wider reflections on life.
For 40 minutes Chris sat before a microphone and first told us a story of a train that stopped, mysteriously, somewhere on the way to Manchester, stranding his character and three other passengers in what appeared to be some post-apocalyptic Britain. Briefly, their phones flared into life. Just as soon as they'd scanned their last messages, the power was gone. Along with the lights.
The woman in the next seat had a dagger. Would she use it? Why wasn't our narrator perturbed by this? Why had another passenger in Converse trainers been crying even before this stop in the middle of nowhere?
Chris assumes this disparate group would not automatically run amok but instead band together, try to support each other as they trudged up the darkened railway line in hopes of...what?
With no break in the narrative he switches his attention to Yellowstone National Park, where nature is already on a knife-edge of volcanic eruption, where the mighty bison look prehistoric and tourists boil if they get too close to a toxic geyser. This really does look like the end of the world as we know it.
Yet, during the question and answer session at the end of the performance, one American in the audience pointed out how Yellowstone had always been a place of beauty and inspiration to her.
Chris agreed about its beauty - but he believed the mass seething just beneath the natural wonder should give all of us pause for thought.
Like others I smiled at the humour interspersing Chris's matter-of-fact narrative and rather enjoyed the incongruity of a grim railway track to Manchester being linked with a glorious American national treasure.
This play was the fifth in a series of nine commissions from the Shop Front Theatre, all taking inspiration from the novelist Henry David Thoreau's ambiguous theme of Are We Where We Are?
The next in the series, Choke, comes from the pen of the Shop Front's own artistic director Chris O'Connell, and runs from February 6. For details go to the website: http://www.theatreabsolute.co.uk
Pictured above: Chris Thorpe at the Shop Front Theatre