By the light of the silvery Moon, something is amiss as a black dressed hooded figure, silhouetted in light and indistinct, advances: is it threatening or searching? Suspended aloft, a flying saucer rotates then falls to Earth, a tale first told in Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of 1947 and repeated in different iterations ever since, portents of something strange just beyond reach and comprehension.
Directed by Nat Norland from a script co-written with Sam George, Why This Sky’s Portents is a minimalist theatrical piece of conspiracy theory/UFOlogy mashup performed by Clara Potter-Sweet, Ross Hunter and Ben Kulvichit at the Edinburgh Fringe, fragments of memory, prophecy and unsubstantiated anecdote, actual evidence no substitute for “people going on this journey themselves.”
From the shifting opening times of a shopping mall, a minute later every day (“in a year and three quarters it won’t open at all!”) to fluoride in the water to shapeshifting lizards occupying positions of global power, if it’s nonsense it’s included, with special mention for the colour turquoise which is “attuned to a frequency which broadcasts love and energy.”
Perhaps proving little other than that fake news is far from new, these portents amount to nothing, the show without structure and the presentation static, three figures on stage with their microphones and stands, uniformly dressed in black as they recite the meaningless dialogue, visual excitement limited to an occasional swapping of places or a change of lighting before descending into the script-throwing tantrum of the finale.
With no attempt made to weave the ideas into anything resembling narrative, themes of paranoia and self-isolation are raised then as swiftly abandoned, an effect akin to viewing a random playlist of YouTube conspiracy theory videos and skipping ahead whenever the brain pain becomes too much or to stay one step ahead of the NSA’s monitoring algorithms.
With similar ideas better explored in the recently released The Vast of Night or Rhum and Clay’s production of The War of the Worlds currently playing at the Pleasance, the best that can be said of Portents is that is similar to an alien abduction experience in that the time lost is inexplicable and will never be recovered.