Yarn is a visceral experience, exceedingly raw and masterfully polished. It weaves two narratives, one ancient and the other achingly modern and familiar, around one other; around the stunning set and into your body, where they will likely sit for days. It makes for an uncomfortable and rewarding experience, undoubtedly what creator Lily Fish intended.
The narrative threads that Fish bring together focus on archetypal stories about female desire for knowledge, power, sex and love. The collapse of a contemporary young woman’s relationship is juxtaposed to the desires and actions of the mythical-historical characters Lilith, Eve and Salome. Through physical theatre and poetic language, Yarn explores women’s capacity for rage.
Yarn’s female protagonists unpick the narratives that compose them – stories of themselves being made from the superfluous fragments of a man, blamed for corrupting all of humanity – and ultimately find freedom. It’s a confronting ride, joining these women, coupled with the immediacy of Fish’s contorted face and her uncompromising commitment to the women she has created. But the play’s end will leave you feeling somehow more connected to yourself, as if Fish has healed your heart a little, as well as entertained and provoked you.
Fish’s text is extraordinary. In a piece so physical, in such a unique space, it’s remarkable that it’s the text that ultimately takes hold of you. Stunning dialogue is woven through fast-paced, poetic, visceral descriptions of anger, hurt and longing: My mother is not the well-spring of my rage, she is just the mirror I see it in. Fish uses the phrase “In the Beginning” throughout the piece to great effect, at times leading the audience into an evocative description of time and place, and at others to a devastatingly funny account of Eve’s abjection.
Despite the richness of the text, Yarn also exemplifies physical theatre at its best. Fish employs every millimeter of her face and body to tell the story. It is also site-specific; Fish created it during a residency as the Australian Tapestry Workshop’s first artist in residence. At every turn of the narrative, you can see how she was influenced by the art of weaving.
The Tapestry Workshop makes for a great performance space. Fish weaves the story among the hand woven tapestries in progress on the looms in a way that sees the stunning old building become a character in itself. I did find myself wishing for some weavers to be on stage with her, however – the impact would likely be striking. But such is the presence and impact of her performance in this space, that if you took her astounding words away, you would still feel your way through the story she is gifting you.
And it is a gift, Yarn. Fish pours so much of her body and her voice into it, with such a fierceness, immediacy and vulnerability, creating a story that makes you feel deeply – about womanhood and women’s power, it does ultimately feel like a stranger has handed you something precious.
Yarn deserves a large audience. Take your sisters, your daughters, your mother, your sons, your friends. Performances like this don’t come along every day.
2013 Melbourne Fringe
Devised and performed by Lily Fish
Venue: Australian Tapestry Workshop | 262/266 Park St, South Melbourne
Dates: 25 Sep – 5 Oct, 2013
Tickets: $22.00 – $16.00