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Strange but not interesting

Lise Smith

Sixty minutes of the most trite, tedious and downright amateur theatre I have ever endured, Me and My Stranger is a patronising and wholly superficial narration of what it might mean to be “strange”. There’s very nearly an interesting point here about the linguistic parallel between “stranger” meaning “foreigner” and “strange” meaning “unfamiliar”; but Sarah Vanhee is not the woman to make it. Instead, she settles for a series of uncritical summaries of other people’s work, quoting Hannah Arendt and showing lengthy portions of documentary film Vers Nancy, without combining these disparate pieces into any sort of thesis.To these unmediated borrowings Vanhee adds a motley collection of Belgian vox-pops, poorly filmed and edited with distracting jump cuts and sound errors. Vanhee doesn’t appear to have rehearsed her live performance either – her spoken text is full of slips and stumbles, increasing the impression that the artist has put little effort into either creation or preparation of the work.

A potentially rich and engaging issue is diminished into a wafer-thin summary without commentary or interest. Mid-lecture, Vanhee suggests in her monologue that the piece “raises a number of questions about our lecturer.” Not really – I’m far less interested in Vanhee than she seems to be in herself. The only question this banal and incoherent waste of an hour raised for me was, “when can we leave?”

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