It was hard to know whether to categorise this review as the first ‘Visions in the Tea Steam’ or a new ‘Tea and Tales’ — an incredibly energetic, visual presentation of spoken word by one man who creates enough different moods and characters for at least five people.
Patches of poetry blend with drama, movement and interaction with the audience to form a captivating piece of theatre. Stewart tells a story familiar to many, of stress, never being noticed or good enough at work despite the tasks piling up on his desk, and failing to function without the precious lift of caffeine.
The relatable introduction of the phone ringing every time he goes to take a sip, accompanied by manic demon typing as he tries to meet deadlines, makes the audience chuckle. Throughout the show humour keeps us afloat amidst the serious subject matter — we ponder containers for fluids, whether or not we once had gills, and the symbolic use of ‘Anagram Man’ as a companion, representation of the self, and a source of inspiration and distraction.
If you’re a coffee person, you will doubtless feel all the more connection to this piece, especially at the moments that made me cringe in humiliation at the desperation for a sip of this elixir of life. If, like me, you belong in the land of tea, sip something strong and black and imagine it is your precious beverage that is lost to the spillage.
This show will make you laugh, cringe, smile and despair, before coming back around to wonder if any of it matters after all. The ending reminded me of the thoughts behind Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String song Constructs — isn’t everything we worry about in life just stuff humans made up? Guaranteed to make you feel something, and engage your attention in ways you didn’t imagine walking in, Spillage is a testament to what is possible with one person and a stage, if the rest of us are prepared to listen.