Flora Gosling reviews Platform’s spoken word performance thick skin, elastic heart.
thick skin, elastic heart pitches itself as “giving voice to a millennial generation”. Whether or not this collective voice is unheard is contestable, but it does give a realistic expectation of what one can expect. Starring Cameron Fulton, Charlotte Driesser, Robert Elkin, and Danielle Jam, the quartet’s spoken word/theatre performance from Company Many and Sonnet Youth covers the passions, fears, and challenges that come with being a 25 to 39 year old in the modern era.
For better or for worse, this amounts to an eloquently written pity party. The group comes off as misunderstood teenagers dressed in pastel. Though it was eye-rolling for some, the performance covers such a wide range of contemporary issues that it is bound to touch a nerve with every member of its audiences at least once. LGBTQ+, gender, employment, parenthood, you name it. Never is this more pronounced than when Fulton repeats the same line over and over, about sitting in a towel, watching the wall, and struggling to find the motivation to get dressed. As he repeats, the line gets shorter and shorter, descending into wrenching contemplations of suicide, propelled by the actor’s powerful performance.
Drew Taylor-Wilson’s writing and word direction has some clever and difficult moments. It’s a shame that thick skin, elastic heart as a whole suffers from something of a lack of personality. Kicking off with a group poem reciting stereotypes about their generation, one can’t help but think of how many times this has been done and will continue to be done year after year until eventually these sorts of shows complain about centennials and generation alpha. If, indeed, we all survive that long.
This issue of existential dread lingering in the back of everybody’s mind isn’t fully addressed, yet it sneaks into the show’s script whenever the future is discussed. It’s frustrating to watch. Why merely season a script with this? Why isn’t this being dealt with more fully? On the other hand, that fleeting frustration is exactly how it feels. It epitomises the collective sense of hearing the tick-tock of a bomb without being able to see how much time is left before it explodes. Whether any audience wants to be reminded about the dire state of our environment in such an unfulfilling way is another matter entirely.
The whole cast deliver strong performances, each taking their turn to be comedic and sincere. The writing is entertaining, well-structured, and stylistic, but not urgent. For audiences that want something relatable, even in the darkest of ways, this is a room for performing shared experiences of everyday life. For something with more nuance, we may be waiting a little longer before a show comes along with something new to say.