Jake Orr, A Younger Theatre

There is something rather profound to be discovered in Guy Dartnell’s solo show, Something or Nothing. It is deeply reflective, pointing the spectator to look at himself as a performer, as a human and as audience. Dartnell gives a frank and honest collection of stories and fragmented moments within his life, questioning and challenging the notion of what “I” is.

He speaks of thought, and consciousness, of the interplay between his experiences growing up and his adult being now. Dartnell separates the inner “I” and places it within a single beam of light, a place where whatever happens, we as an audience are meant to forget. He questions why he is making a show, a one-man show, questioning what “I” is, and ultimately declaring that he is presenting nothing more than an egotistical form of himself to the audience. Throughout Something or Nothing Dartnell returns to this idea, allowing the pressures that he imposes on himself to be vocalised.

As a whole, the performance is meditative. It soothes the audience into a state where Dartnell’s questioning of himself as a performer allows us to question our own lives. As he draws outlines of his body against a blackboard, he takes us through the techniques he has attempted to relieve the pressure that has literally been building up on his spine. It is only through massage that he learns that he is always attempting to do things himself, he struggles with letting go, letting go of his body. When he does, it becomes a “flux of sensation”. This flux flows through Something or Nothing, giving way to the fragmented moments and stories Dartnell delivers.

The use of projection to illustrate the meditative state he enters to release the pressures of the world is exquisite. Coupled with the chalk drawings and the blending of music with voice over, as an audience we begin to understand what Dartnell is getting at. Sometimes it is our questioning of who and what we are that weighs us down, when, really, we might have to accept that we aren’t actually anything at all. We just are.

Something or Nothing is a tender, witty, reflective and masterfully alluring performance. Dartnell clearly understands the fine fabrics that not only makes performance so preternatural, but makes us human – constantly questioning beings. I urge you to see, experience and understand Dartnell’s theatre.