Writer: Harry Josephine Giles
Director: Rob Jones
A Drone has various definitions. For the most part, it is a hovering mechanical device, small in size but capable of unparalleled chaos, through its informative lenses or firearm capabilities. Drone, a constant sound in the distance, a background hum we grow accustomed too but never question. It is also a worker. Drained, overworked and unhappy. An anxious mess of agreement to the chain of command.
As this refined piece of technology flies into the theatre, its gaze fixates on the audience. Some are yet to notice until a distorted image of the audience is beaming over their heads onto the wall. Chalked out figures in the darkness, still recognisable. Suddenly this gadget, this toy reveals its intended nature. A purveyor of surveillance, an invasive device to our everyday lives, seeing humanity in a way only the angels on high usually can.
It falls into the open hands of performer and writer Harry Josephine Giles. They are draped in the magnificence of metallic glitter, sparkling in the projections beamed across the room. Drone, in one way or another, has landed. Giles, or for this evening Drone, a worker, instrument of (self) destruction and one of many who anxiously live our lives in the complacency of violence, surveillance and capitalist burnouts.
Set against the multimedia’s of video projection, Drone fuses a plethora of narrative devices, a wide arrange of colour palettes, brazen bursts of noise and spoken word. Its diverse nature commands authority without question, seductively concealed. Drone’s effervescence engaging our focus as the sound design seeks to neutralise it like.
The gentle humming of a drone echoes throughout the production. This whirring, for many, is a soft murmur of surveillance, violence and terror. For others, its altered white noise feels comforting. The hum distorts to frequencies and shrieks. Giles has constructed a harrowing beauty in the artistry of war. For as lethal as Drone may be, she is also a woman spiralling into burnout. Giles’ poetic language is sublime, driving us to the edges of our seat, it’s repetitious patterns, mantras of self-identity.
Ever-present throughout Drone is the concept of watching, though how could there not be given the drones nature? This insistence of observing others, but also scrutinising ourselves is something Drone herself suffers. Trying to re-invent herself, taking brief dips into veganism, charitable work and career changes. Despite it all, as many anxious suffers find that regardless of whichever mask is equip to Drone, the cracks soon emerge. For as much as her therapist makes proclamations of her love and work ethic, drone herself merely ‘has bombs’.
Fractured images project onto the wall as Giles glides across the space, reminiscent of their mechanical counterpart. We continue duality, firstly with images put before the audience. Life’s creation; a human who curls into a foetal position as the sound waves engulf, protecting it. Spliced amongst them are distortions of war, life’s premature ending.
We hang on every utterance; every word has relevance to the text. The use of audio pedals, located by the mic-stand to alter Drone’s voice, driving us in and out of authoritative tones. Their own head, driven inside a filing cabinet to simulate radio distance, a militant atmosphere profoundly creeping inward. Simpson’s sound design is staggeringly meticulous, though far from comforting – indeed its intended effect of disorientation working almost too well.
Constant expressions of melancholy, dry humour, false representations and re-inventions make Drone an interesting piece. Harry Josephine Giles’ Drone is a production entirely of its own craft, unlike any other. An examination of the neurotic age of technologies influence on the complacency of anxiety and surveillance.
Review originally published for Reviews Hub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/drone-the-traverse-theatre-edinburgh/
Image Contribution: Rich Dyson