Well how could I resist a ticket, given the name of the play? A sermon on the very failures that make us human, Our Carnal Hearts plays upon all of our horrible and horribly universal jealousies, angers and misgivings. Rachel Mars uses song and audience interaction to leave us confused and ashamed at our natures. But does it work?
The set-up is unusual, and immediately beguiling. The audience walks into a black box theatre set up to mimic a church ready for Sunday mass, with four silent women sat in the front row seats clutching a variety of intriguing objects. Once the play begins, these women become the choir (and a very talented choir at that), singing about greed, singing about corruption and (my favourite) singing about Nespresso and George Clooney. There is a raw passion to this piece; an anger that is masked by humour, in the way that we all tend to mask our anger sometimes. The audience is made uncomfortable with probing questions from the wonderful and increasingly hot lead actor Rachel Mars. This is interspersed with flash-fiction narrative of an accidental revolutionary living in a sideways present, giving even more texture to the performance.
And yet, something about Our Carnal Hearts really did remind me of a play I was in in college (during the time I wanted to be an actor, well, an actor, before I realised how god darn irritating drama students are). This was a play that the director told us was a culmination of ‘her brain throwing up on a page.’ The ideas are there, but it needed editing! Despite that criticism, the writing in Our Carnal Hearts is beautiful. There are lines that really hit me with their eloquence, a description, for example, of the earth as ‘that bruised and glistening place.’ I mean, seriously? I love that. Additionally, I enjoyed the chosen configuration of the audience -- we sat in a square, allowing the priest (if we can call her that, and I think we should), complete generosity in how she moved about the space.
Essentially, I loved the concept (and my guests agreed), but I felt the show needed more anger. If the idea behind the show is that we are masking our angers, then why the hell are we still doing so when we watch it? Why are the actors doing it? They should be raging, and we should be left raging. We should walk out of the theatre itching to light the fires to which the play builds up. Come on then; fuck social media, fuck the sly competitiveness, let’s get real. Let’s burn something down!