i have seen enough

Dan Daw is being held up by another man; Dan is wearing only shiny trousers so you can see his tattooes. The other man’s arms clasp Dan’s waist and neck, and Dan smiles as he grips on to the other man

by Maddy Costa

I started this wanting to break a silence and wanting to write of joy, a feeling so precarious, butterfly capricious. i’d seen Everything Everywhere All at Once but the words for that wouldn’t come. so I tried for some others, and some of those are now deleted, and I made a list of of all the things I might write about, such as:


Cornelia Parker at Tate Britain – the wit, intelligence, politics of that show

Lubaina Himid at Tate Modern – the scintillating approach to dialogue, the fury, invention

Heartstopper – triple dose of cuteness although according to my fifteen-year-old not as realistic as My So-Called Life (which I watched obsessively when it was screened in 1994 and remains a defining moment in my so-called life)

Self-Esteem at the Forum in Kentish Town – even now, having seen so much, there’s still nothing quite like that moment when the first note drops and the crowd of bodies become a single body, bouncing to the beat as one

The Making of Pinnochio – relationships, honesty, change

and I started but even while writing the list got longer and longer and then I lost hope


and so it’s unfinished except for these bits. thank you for reading.


there was another catastrophe and in the month after it happened what held me together was Small World by Metronomy. the first time I listened the song Love Factory made me laugh out loud, specifically the words ‘she’s so industrious’, the yelp of a man astounded by his partner’s multiple orgasms and anxious about keeping up. the third time I listened I noticed the glitch in It’s Good To Be Back: the melody keeps its warm beer bubble even as he sings ‘our love is gone’. the seventh time I listened I fell through the cracks in Dana Margolin’s voice in the second half of Hold Me Tonight; i’ve since become obsessed with Porridge Radio, sometimes listening to their latest album feels like out-teenaging my own fifteen year old, it’s so relentlessly, gratifyingly morose.

(why won’t the dog pick up the stick panic sweats you wake up crying always feeling kind of sick = summer 2021 in twenty words or less)

listen listen listen and then: I was standing, about to pull on a jumper, when I properly heard Small World’s final song, I Have Seen Enough, and was winded, had to sit down. I have seen enough: theatre. I have seen enough: art. I have seen enough: peonies, wisteria, magnolias in bloom; rainbows, storms, bright sunny days; rivers, meadows, dogs, dogs, dogs. I have seen enough: of people being hurt, micro aggression, institutionalised and systemic violence, arguments, deep-rooted inconsideration. I have seen enough. (or too much.) but I just can’t look away.

that was the moment, the air leaving my lungs, when Small World became the oxygen, oxygenating. for a month at least. until another small thing came along.


I have seen enough theatre and then I watch The Dan Daw Show and I think: this is what keeps me coming back. the possibility of this. this wit, this care, this political intelligence, but also, this utopian feeling. utopian is a word I used to use a lot, before losing heart; here I use it leaning on Jill Dolan and her book Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope in the Theater, which reflects on those ‘profound moments in which performance calls the attention of the audience in a way that lifts everyone slightly above the present, into a hopeful feeling of what the world might be like if every moment of our lives were as emotionally voluminous, generous, aesthetically striking, and intersubjectively intense’. The Dan Daw Show was abundant in such moments.

Dan says at the beginning that it’s a show about wanting to get fucked in a world that keeps fucking disabled people, and how that looks is Dan and his dance partner Chris (there so people who are not-yet disabled can ‘see themselves represented on stage’) negotiating a series of movements that enable Dan to inhabit his body, celebrate his body, push his body, give his body to an audience on his own terms, Chris sometimes dominating, but always supporting: holding Dan tight as they spin; holding Dan’s hand as he stands, wobbles, on a table; strapping Dan into an extraordinary inflatable costume that makes him look like a many-tentacled god. it’s a show about an individual’s desires that shifts something collective around desire, self-expression, autonomy, but also interdependence, how social bonds might be rewritten, how love and change are intertwined.


I have seen enough theatre and then I watch Fault Lines by Two Destination Language and the entire way I watch theatre is in question. Fault Lines is so simple and so clever: on stage is a catwalk show, four womxn plus a fifth behind the sound desk, working their way through a chicken-wired enclave of costumes, including athletic wear, simple jeans, snazzy jackets, pretty frocks, and slogan-printed t-shirts accessorised with slogan-printed flags. to be clear, the slogans are anti-war, anti-oppression, not the kind of glib girl power platitudes more usually sold on the high street. the performers don’t speak, but their voices can be heard through an audio accompaniment, talking about their lives, their bodies, their communities, their relationships to concepts such as home, belonging, culture. which sounds basic enough, except that there are five channels to this audio element, three of which offer different styles of music (classical, light-hearted pop, rebel songs – all by womxn), while the fifth is narrated by Katherina Radeva, a disquisition on the dominance of the English language, its ongoing colonial activity.

so it’s a work that presents difference and enables choice, in ways that subtly invite you to notice the assumptions you make about what you’re seeing and the choices you make about what to hear. my assumptions exposed a thoughtlessness in relation to disability: much to consider there. my choices prioritised narrative over song: mostly I flipped between the spoken audio channels – lecture, chat, lecture, chat – with the occasional palate cleanser from the pop stream. another thing I noticed: how thrilling it was when audio and performance unexpectedly synchronised, like when the performers were lycra-clad and stretching and I switched to their audio to catch them talking about their relationships to exercise; or the different thrill of switching to music just in time for Self-Esteem’s spirit-rush command to ‘be as one, steady stand, for as long as you think you can’.


and then watching The White Card and I have, I really have, seen enough theatre. a dinner party, a confrontation, stereotypes, shouting. discomfort not because the play is scrutinising whiteness, the dominance of whiteness, the unconscious verbal aggressions and sometimes conscious physical aggressions of whiteness: discomfort because the play scrutinises whiteness through a lens thicker than a jam jar, a lens that reveals only ‘realism’, offers to an audience nothing more than what is shown. where are the subtlety, the grace, the lyricism and experiment of Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Claudia Rankine’s essay-poems that are devastating to read, so precise and astute are their scrutiny of whiteness? given how inventive she is with poetic form, why is she so mannered with dramatic form here, limiting herself to established and tedious conventions?

there’s an excellent review of an American production in The Nation that (agrees with me, and also) reveals a considered performance shape erased by the end-on staging I saw at Soho Theatre: Rankine imagines the audience seated in such a way that they can see each other at the same time as the work. this, I suppose, is the root of the two most satisfying minutes of Natalie Ibu’s production: the set change between the first and second scenes, when dancers burst through the walls to the sound of This is America, shove the furniture around and hold up mirrors to the seating bank. it’s dynamic, challenging, spirited – everything I wished the rest of the play to be.


I have seen enough enough enough enough and then…

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