Lone Twin seem destined to carry things around the Barbican Centre. For Spiral, the duo lifted, dragged and hauled a growing number of objects in a spiral journey to the centre of the Barbican over seven days. For their latest performance Speeches, they took a movable podium in Barbican orange to different spots within the Barbican estate and presented a very gentle series of performances.
Speeches is a set of speeches written and spoken by Barbican locals, ranging from the local (female) priest, an A Level student, a Barbican Estate resident, a cycle courier... each volunteer worked with a professional speech writer to put together 15 minutes about themselves, to tell real stories about real lives in the places that mean something to each speaker. There was no escapsim or make believe in the whole evening, and more powerful for that.
It was extraordinary in a mild and non-provocative way to gain so much from each speech just in the act of the volunteers speaking and us just listening. In the current vogue for spectacle, for masks, secret locations and audiences performing just as much as the actors, Speeches was refreshing and more moving than it first seemed. In the dying light of the day, we moved quietly from place to place in a small group to hear these speeches in locations selected by the speakers - by the automatic doors of the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama, sitting like a congregation inside St Giles, overlooking the lilypond just behind the church.
We had three tips for better living from Pal, the City Business Library librarian. We learned about the history of St Giles and how Katherine went from the fashion trade to priesthood, we got a taste for blues music from Nick who peppered his speech with notes on his harmonica. With a little more encouragement, we could have had a good old jam session outside the library. But it was nicer to just slip away and go home, looking around us trying to imagine what everyone else would say in their speeches and thinking of what we would say in our own.
Speeches by Lone Twin at the Barbican, until Saturday 20 September. Performances are free but you must book a place in advance. Each performance consists of three speeches, if you want to hear them all you will be given a programme and the chance to attend the ones you want. Ask at box office, for more information go to the Barbican website.