Long gone are the days where a conversation between two people stayed that way. With advancements in technology, private conversations can be captured, recorded and shared to the masses within seconds of being had. However, the age-old art of eavesdropping has been around for much longer, where by leaning back just a little bit further on your chair means you can catch the argument a couple sitting behind you are having, or the joy a person is expressing on a phone call seated on the train next you regarding their recent engagement. In Earshot, Kate Hunter has created a show out of the conversations she has overheard in which she and fellow performer, Josephine Lange re-enact.
There are a variety of conversations in this live performance including death, being Jewish, domestic violence and gardening and the conversations and topics range from laughable to horrifying. So while we are provided with an array of people's conversations, you can't help but begin to question what is the purpose of hearing these conversations? Why have these conversations been specifically chosen over others? And unfortunately no answers are provided, which leads to a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with Earshot.
Hunter's intention is to explore the public/private spheres and how the two can easily crossover but with social media being as huge as it is in the world, surely the concept of privacy and knowing that anyone could be listening in on your seemingly private conversation is no longer a surprise or a shock?
Hunter and Lange pair each conversation they re-enact with various modern and antiquated objects such as pvc piping and plastic funnels, kitchen appliances and tin cans. There are a number of visually and aurally unique elements to this show, including voice-activated text projections on the wall behind the performers, but much like the conversation themselves, they never really amount to anything.
As performances though, the two do incredibly well in creating these characters using only their voices. With each character, the intonation and pronunciation are highly distinctive and the ease in which they adapt to the vernacular and slang being used in each conversation is incredibly impressive.
Earshot takes private conversations and plays them out in the public arena, and while we can laugh and gasp at what people talk about when they think no one is listening, there isn't much to mull over once the show is over.
Earshot was performed at fortyfivedownstairs between 29 November and 3 December 2017.