The Middle Room

Recently landed: Into the Unknown, The Middle Room (Gracia's written response for Fjord Review)

This is a performance that begins before you’ve walked through the front door. It begins with the address you are sent: your location, your X marks the spot. Furnished with the kind of details you would send to a friend, local signposts are highlighted: a one minute walk from the train station, a synagogue opposite, the brick colour of the building. I sight the landmarks of my mental map and note that this is one quietly thrilling introduction. Walking into this “theatre” is different to other performances. I take the stairs as directed up to the top floor. My tread is silent on the steps, and my heart is galloping. The unknown awaits.

As instructed in the notes, I am to let myself into the apartment-theatre-performance space-cum-doorway-to-alternate-world and to take a seat on the small stool. A moment of panic: or was I to sit on the floor near to the performer on the stool? Have I remembered the rules of play correctly? I quietly close the screen door behind me and my eyes adjust to the half-light of the space. I sight the small white stool but a metre from the door and elect to leave my bag just a little way behind me. It slumps to the floor and I immediately second guess my decision: have I placed my bag in the way on the stage? I sit down on the kids’ stool, right next to the performer quietly seated on the floor nearby. All correct thus far. I note my breathing. I wonder if my perfume is too intrusive in the space. I tuck my legs in closer to the stool and I note that I am on the stage. I am the participant not mealy the audience. There is me and there is Nat Cursio, the performer and choreographer of the piece. She is sitting close to me, her eyes downcast. All is still. I am both in her personal space, her home, and I am on her stage, her carpeted, small stage. This is quietly confronting and unlike anything I have experienced. This is 10.30 on a Friday morning. This is a doorway to an alternate world. Outside I can hear the comforting noises from the street: a train rumbling, a car parking, a splintered conversation. There is still a link to the outside. There is still a way out.

Nat Cursio’s The Middle Room (Image credit: Rachel Roberts)

Nat Cursio’s The Middle Room (Image credit: Rachel Roberts)