A review of The Yard’s CUTENESS FORENSICS by Rebecca Jackson


So, I am an octopus.  Coincidentally I have no suckers, and for some unbeknownst reason, I have been teleported into the body of a 6ft British man.  This skinny young gentleman finds himself dawdling about in the living room of a DJ who has just, for the last 85 hours straight, been experimenting at home by hooking up random objects, curtains, used IV packs and small wooden boards on music stands, to his sound mixer.  On top of that, this DJ lives with his grandmother in Berlin, and she has a particular penchant for pink curtains.  And fluffy toy sloths.  And doll houses.  It is, needless to say, a strange predicament for a sucker-less octopus.  What to do?

Well, nothing really, but to incite this pleasant young British man’s body to flip-flop falteringly around said living room, touching things with his tentative fingers.  Quite wonderfully, the DJ is ever so accommodating to my presence and has walked across the stage on his knees to play me a pleasant beat.  A perfect beat for tottering.  And totter I do!  Backwards, always backwards, in shoes made of sponges, finding microphones, swabbing the inside of bathtubs with them, swabbing the inside of toy sloths with them, because after all, we are in Berlin; let’s all get checked.

My tentacular capacity to curiously but never annoyingly probe at the bits and bobs strewn around this Berlin DJs grandmother’s house artistically accompanies the beat.  I wipe sinister fake knives across hairy sponges that I have mounted on yet another precariously balanced metal music stand, and it reverbs pleasingly, or unpleasantly depending on your taste in Noise.  I bosh my toy sloth into the malfunctioning mirror, the action is not so much playful as macabre, but the impact does not break the unreflective screen, rather makes a big bass-y boom.  I repeat.  I pick things up and drop them again with the innocent abandon and utter simplicity of a 2-year old child who has just un-learnt their grab reflex.  And the whole time I float around this destroyed dripping devastation of a room, I am accompanied by an infectious beat.


And that, my dears, is an inkling of what just happened in the performance of Cuteness Forensics.  It reminded me of the deep satisfaction of not having to clear up.  It reminded me of the dirty pleasure of littering.  It reminded me of the divine intersection between cuteness and the overbearing, the foreboding, the sinister.  There was no real climax to the piece.  It felt more like a steady, strange audio-visual investigation into the beauty of weirdness and the frustrating monotony of everything happening just a little bit.  There was a meticulous order in this chaos, facilitating the musicality.  No matter how dishevelled it looked, someone had thought about it, planned what went where and how and when it would be moved, played, activated, deactivated, emptied or squashed.  This light frustration, this underlying order in dissonance with the apparent chaos, was beautifully reflected in the protagonist-octopus-Brit’s repetitive trait of adjusting the bottom seam of his jumper with just his finger tips.  Just a little bit.  Middle finger and thumb.  Every.  So.  Cute.

I don’t quite know what it says about modern electronic music performance that the audience experience is akin to watching an octopus dressed as human delicately fucking-up some Berlin DJ’s grandmother’s house.  But I like it.  I am going straight home, switching on Spotify, strapping the kitchen sponges to me feet and licking a microphone.  It seems like the right thing to do.

Text: Rebecca Jackson, studied languages at Cambridge and is now a yoga teacher who enjoys breaking porcelain during a fight
Fotos: Maurizio Martorana, Sebastian Köthe, Katharina Neumann

Cuteness Forensics
Objekttheater, Bildende Kunst, Musik. Deutschland-Premiere im Rahmen von Theater der Dinge: am 28.10.2019 in der Schaubude, weitere Vorstellung: am 29.10.2019 daselbst.

Eine Auftragsproduktion von The Yard
Produktion: Artsadmin
Gefördert von: Arts Council England
Performance: Tim Spooner, Tom Richards (UK)