Review: Watching Paint Dry (Herald Theatre)
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
If there is ever a title to get audience in seats, it is that one. The brain child of writer and director Anders Falstie-Jensen, we are invited to sit and watch as a wall is painted and then dries over 50 minutes. On the evening I went, the colour of choice was "Adreneline Orange".
It is not solely an exercise in staring at a wall though, as Sean Lynch, the painter of the wall and the sole performer in the show, shares seemingly random thoughts on life as a whole and guides us through the remaining time. These were presumably devised by Falstie-Jensen while watching a wall, and cover time, love, and death and more. Initially though, it is difficult to keep a straight face. The house lights were up, Lynch's persona had already caused a few chuckles just in how he painted the wall, and as an audience I think we felt very connected, like a school class trying to keep quiet in a library.
Part of the performance involves leaving your phone on, volume up high, so you can hear all the external pleas for your attention coming in but without giving them any attention. This was an interesting touch, and only reinforced the sense of unity in the room as we heard all of our notifications pinging away but quietly ignored them (but giggling at them every so often). Of course, humour was written into the piece itself, such as the lighting, music and position of Lynch's chair changing every so often.
The individual monologues are also well delivered and entertaining, and you can see why it was written specifically for Lynch as his calm and happy disposition perfectly matches the simplicity of the performance concept. The monologues themselves also address some interesting themes, the most interesting of these being between the popular but contradictory philosophies of taking life slowly, appreciating small pleasures and not being overwhelmed by the pace of the rest of the world, versus the pressure to live our short lives to the full and doing everything we can possibly do.
These themes are fascinating, however I couldn't help but feel that they were a little lost amongst the multiple metaphors that never really tie together satisfactorily, leading to an unexpectedly swift conclusion. For the show focused so greatly on the passage of time, I felt that the show could have been longer and and made a greater point about its most predominant theme. The concept of the show and the themes it deals with are clever and thought-provoking, but it never feels grounded enough to reach its full potential. Three stars.
Whispers from the crowd:
"I felt very present, more than any other show I have been to in my life"