WRITER-performer Melanie Wilson’s latest solo show is an arresting meditation on isolation, which nevertheless finds her collaborating with filmmaker Will Duke and establishing a correspondence between three women across time and space.
Recuperating in Devon, the central character is a war photographer, connected by memories to her friend in Afghanistan, but also, through family letters and photographs, to her great-great grandmother. With Wilson relating through a microphone while conducting soundscapes from the console of her desk, a panoramic screen portrays the stark countryside around the photographer as enigmatic, occasionally threatening but irrepressible, bound to her troubled state-of-mind as the world implores her to engage with it. The limitations of photography, the written and spoken word for essaying meaning are explored, but it is Wilson’s hazily indistinct sounds that evoke the greatest resonance. Gender inequality is touched on, existing in perpetuity across cultures, though to varying degrees. The character of Meena is given to the gnomic platitudes of a devoted mother-cum-plaster saint – though this could be attributable to the woman’s background and situation, and besides, she is challenged by the childless photographer. A lyrical, fleeting series of memories and mirages, backed by a soundtrack that runs from murmurs to discordant assault on the ears, this production by Fuel coheres only gradually, and even then leaves questions of culpability and fortitude unresolved.