REVIEW: A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive (The Basement)

Review by Tim George

[Fun ’n’ Head Games]

Created and performed by Phoebe Mason, A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive falls somewhere between one-person show and a Choose Your Own Adventure.

The story (if one can call it that) starts out simply enough – our unknown protagonist wanders onto the titular street and finds themselves inside a strange house that feels oddly familiar.

In the programme, Mason says the show is ‘whatever you need to take from it’. Watching A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive took me back to the box sets of old detective radio shows from the 40s and 50s that I used to listen to when I was a kid (yes, I was that Kid). The show is basically a monologue, and I often found myself drifting off into my own recollections, carried away by Mason’s language.

There is no set or supporting cast – the audience is arranged in a semicircle around an empty space on the Basement Studio floor. A number of pieces of cardboard hang on the wall behind Mason. These cards become extremely important, as they hide a series of potential plot moves.

While Mason narrates, performs sound effects and embodies various characters (a strange woman; the Moon), the audience is placed in the unique position of deciding the unknown narrator’s next move.

Plot turns are determined by the audience’s minor movements (nodding your head, opening your mouth). It is a fun conceit, and Mason is a strong guide into the surreal head space of Twin Oak Drive.

While a tad languorous, Mason has a gift for vivid imagery and conjuring atmosphere with a few words. The language is so strong that Mason’s handmade sound effects (which she creates with various props on a table at her side) are rendered pointless. It is kind of interesting the first time she creates the sound of rain, but it quickly feels extraneous to the overall effect.

Atmospheric, funny and offbeat, A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive will give you a chance to exercise something we tend to forget about these days: your imagination.

A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive plays at The Basement until 24 March. 

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