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If the Cap Fits

Gary Stevens

1985 – 1987

90 minutes in two parts

Performed by Caroline Wilkinson and Gary Stevens
Costume: Caroline Evans and Georgina Carless

The two performers stand behind separate pieces of furniture and project onto them different attitudes to being on the stage and being looked at. They slowly emerge from behind the objects and rehearse two incompatible accounts of their relationship with one another. They are alert to being ‘caught’ like naughty children dressing up in someone else’s clothes. The man quickly puts on more trousers, the woman more skirts, as if they are always vulnerable, naked and exposed. Their bodies are transformed as they accrue more clothing. The impression they give becomes simultaneously geriatric and infantile; the man resembles an onion consisting of nothing but layers, the woman resembles a bell. Their difference is emphasised and made meaningless.

Much of the show is about the embarrassment of being on stage without a proper role to play. Their self-consciousness grows out of their lack of place within a coherent representation.

The audience is included in the fiction. Their responses and thoughts are made up by the performers, sometimes plausibly, sometimes as ridiculous flights of fancy.

A carpet is rolled out over a pile of clothes strewn about the floor. It connects the furniture and makes an island of the objects. It works against the idea of a set interior.

Finally the performers are engulfed in clothing. Their separate identities are threatened and lost. In an effort to represent themselves, a small table is precariously balanced on the mound of carpet to represent the stage. Beer bottles are produced to stand in for the bodies of the performers, but as soon as they are placed on the table and released, they slide off onto the floor.

“…the two protagonists interweave fiction and reality, flickering in and out of character, as the inanimate objects around them become invested with lives of their own… mesmerising, fascinating, highly original and deeply funny…”

Western Mail

“Funny – tragic, theatrical – sculptural, familiar – bizarre, the audience is stretched between a variety of extremes.”

Art Monthly

“One of the most memorable passages is the wonderful and persuasive word-picture painted by Gary of sitting in a theatre audience and suddenly feeling himself inflating until he floats up out of his seat and hovers about the theatre. There was a similarly styled word picture in his earlier work Invisible Work in which he acquires the ability to pass through walls but then gets stuck half-way through. These two stories both stand up as comic monologues of real genius… In addition to being great comic writing they are delivered in Stevens’s now familiar but riveting deadpan style in which he seems caught out and taken aback by the words issuing from his own mouth as though he had no control over them.”

Performance Magazine

Acme Studios, London; Faculty of Art and Design, Cardiff; Goldsmith’s School of Art, London; Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton; ICA Theatre, London; Trent Poly, Nottingham; Medway College of Design, Rochester; St. Botolph’s church, Aldgate, London; Chapter Art Centre, Cardiff; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; St. Martin’s School of Art, London; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Castle Museum, Nottingham; Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; The Leadmill, Sheffield; Arnolfini, Bristol; St. Donat’s Arts Centre, South Wales; Town Hall Studios, Swindon; Prema, Gloucestershire

Sydney Biennale, Australia; Praxis, Perth, Australia 1988; The British Are Coming festival, Denmark tour; Mickery Theatre, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1989