Fabric of the Universe is a lot more than a monomaniacal yarnbomb.
Finding a place to store the set when the run is over is a plague among theatremakers. You can’t just recycle it. That would mean abandoning all hope of restaging it at some indeterminate future date, or raise the spectre of having to rebuild/repurchase the bloody thing. Few artists want to contemplate their work never being seen again. Thus a director’s garage is a trove of eccentric bits and bobs, and is rarely used to house a motor vehicle.
I think lack of storage space is the real reason behind the development of Poor Theatre.
Lexi Meier, who as I understand it is the initial creator of the seductive Fabric of the Universe, doesn’t have this problem. In fact I’m jealous of her being able to take home the universe she, Megan Wright, Meyrick Tree and Mikha Zeffertt have knitted together. She can string it up as a rejuvenating retreat to enjoy any time she pleases. Or I’ll keep it safe. Thanks.
Through hours and hours and hours of crochet, she’s created a womb for adults. Children too. And yes, it does have a view; an intriguing porthole looking through a glass darkly at a soaring, swooping illuminated bird that, although kind of kitsch and transparently manipulated by a performer, is oddly satisfying.
Crochet is kitsch after all, but on this scale, with its tunnels and portals, it becomes, if not a universe, a parallel world in which the mundane becomes extraordinary.
There’s little actual performance beyond crocheting, with Lexi giving directions while enveloped, mummy-like, in a crocheted suit, and someone in similar getup wondering around, muttering, and bumping into people – which is not really necessary. Instead we become the performers as we move through this strange world, its peculiarity heightened by light and sound. Without our reactions, our exploration of the web, it’s little more than a monomaniacal yarnbomb. Although even so it would be fascinating.
On a more prosaic level, relaxing inside the Gaudi-ish architecture of string did provoke flashbacks of 90s rave chillout rooms. None of them were ever this good though and social acceptance of strangers complicit in sharing the experience of the space made me realise we probably never really needed those drugs in order to feel all united and one-tribe and all that shit. Oh, except for the music. We needed the drugs to deal with that god-awful noise.
Certainly none are required to enter the meditative immersion that is Fabric of the Universe.
By obsessing on one simple, single thing, Lexi has pushed through the medium and popped out the other side to present an intriguing installation the structure of which demands to be experienced, for it is not seen. At least not as a whole. Just like life. This parallel accounts for a strange peace, as if, despite our anxieties and struggles, we are held. All of us. Together.
It’s like a perspective generator.
The cops and the #Fallists should definitely chill out here.
Fabric of the Universe opens again at the Cape Town Fringe on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (6, 7 and 8 October. Go find some inner peace. Details and bookings here.