Gaëtan Schmid greets us as we come into the venue (the intimate Masonic Back) with his wide, boyish smile and welcomes us into the show with an equally generous introduction.
The set consists of a speaker, a beautifully crafted wooden little school desk and chair and a wall filled with post-it notes on which are written the titles of well-known films.
He tells us how he constructed his soundscape for the show to come from the soundtracks of these films – not just clips edited into montage one after the other, but using layering; and he shows us performative moments to look out for in his performance to come from the films.
Pointing to the sticky notes, he tells us what the narrative arc will be and how it is mapped through the films, through which portals he will travel to annihilation and cyclically back to repeat.
He tells us the theme : fear … of a little boy (himself) having to give his poetry recital in class, of public speaking, of the actor facing their audience.
He says the zombies represent, and are symbolic of, this fear.
He also says we must not get caught up in trying to recognize the films, but just to flow with the show like water.
He then begins his miming, sitting in fear and trembling as the petrified little Gaëtan in his English class knowing he is about to be asked to present his poem. Fear assails him, and he is then immersed, as are we, in his roller-coaster ride of personified play-acted power-struggles between the aggressors and the vulnerable.
At one point we hear: “I am not an animal, I am a human” from the movie Alien, and, in a resonance with the show ERSATZ (which I affectionately headline The Descent of Man) one begins to wonder what exactly is happening to humanity.
The little boy can fight the zombie apocalypse, but we seem doomed. Perhaps like Gaëtan, we can use our imaginative powers to fight the living dead, drooling, capitalist, oligarchist, one percent who brutalise the world, and Gaëtan’s transfixing, mesmerizing, hypnotizing performance might just inspire this visualization.
Shows: Friday 10am, Saturday at 6pm at Masonic Back