Patrick Cole’s Diving was certainly an experience. This site specific performance was staged in the Glue Factory’s tank room. The Glue Factory itself is an interesting independent arts venue which also offers workspace to artists in the north of Glasgow. The industrial warehouse houses a variety of cavernous spaces and the damp, cold tank was the perfect setting for this abstract piece of performance art.
Having been pre-warned to wrap up warm, met and guided by a team of people in boiler suits down a ladder to the performance area, there was a definite tentative feeling amongst the audience. Making full use of the brilliant acoustics, Robert Wyatt’s cover of Shipbuilding played on repeat as we waited to take our seats and our new friends in boiler suits handed out free beers. Yes, free beers! Which is certainly one great way to put your audience at ease.
Living aboard a submarine, Cole’s character in this one man show is a pearl diver, drawing further attention to the lyrics of Shipbuilding. “With all the will in the world, diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls.” Through a manic narrative with regular appearances from Janet the housefly/best friend we discover more about his isolated life, self doubts and a difficult relationship with his father. Cole drew on experiences of depression and anxiety when creating Diving and this is reflected in the erratic performance. Just as we are losing ourselves in one of his stories laced with dry humour, it is undercut with an unsettling outburst. All in all, Diving was funny and sad, and never quite had you at ease.