As a physical theatre virgin, I had no tangible expectations for Cloth, put on at the Barron by Eve Klein & Sons as part of the On the Rocks Festival. However, what I experienced was a minimalist yet insightful perspective on the significance of ‘cloth’ in all its forms, both in daily life and on an existential scale. It encompassed a range of material increasingly diverse – from puns to sexual intimacy and death – within just half an hour, and was put to well chosen audio accompaniment.
Something that must be mentioned is the inventive ways in which the single piece of cloth was used, particularly evident in the morning routine episode at the beginning of the piece. It went from bed sheet, to shower water, to towel and clothes in a humourous quasi-montage of ‘outfits’, such as a habit, toga and wedding dress, ending up in an exasperated ‘Nothing fits!’ all in service to the charming pun, ‘should have bought a fitted sheet’. The use of colour was striking, notably in the episode detailing the loss of the character’s purity in her first sexual experience by the removal of her white clothing to reveal muddy-brown clothes underneath. Additionally, Klein’s face, especially in the darker episodes, had an extraordinary hold on the audience with the ability to change the mood of the Barron in a simple eye movement.
Music was vital to this production, as there was little speech and no dialogue. In one of the darker episodes, presumably a nightmare, an unnerving split voice track was cleverly applied to Klein’s thrashing character, whereas an accordion was used for lighter ones. But Klein’s unaccompanied voice in her song during the ‘death’ sequence was the most exposed and harrowing, neatly ending the piece by folding the piece of cloth back up as she had unfolded it at the start.
I am glad that Cloth introduced me to the realm of physical theatre, and reminded me that theatre is not only one of the arts, but actually can be art. It gave the audience an opportunity to connect wholly and completely with devotion to a single person, something theatre rarely offers, and explored a concept that surrounds us, but also hides us. I look forward to Eve Klein & Sons’ next endeavour.