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On a hot August day in 1968, while watching a televised broadcast of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Chris Durnall’s father died. Company of Sirens’ performance piece Twelve Cabins Twelve Vacancies, directed and performed by Durnall, alongside Angharad Matthews and musician Rhys Anderson, weaves one of cinema’s most well-known stories with another that is far more personal.
There is a strange and sometimes beguiling incongruity to the way both are threaded. Some monochrome family photographs are projected while others are narrated into existence in front of a white screen. Film scenes are described (and re-described) in forensic detail before the narration segues into an equally detailed synopsis of a scene from childhood. A copy of Richard Anobile’s book on Psycho, containing an image of every shot in the film, remains on stage throughout, offering brief glimpses of a story we know well but from which we may only remember the violent highlights. Quotidian details – the iconic and the individual – are less well remembered.
At times, the piece is a little too underplayed and cool to be wholly absorbing. But Twelve Cabins Twelve Vacancies is a fascinating rumination on grief, working best when the loose lyricism of the structure allows for subtle and unexpected allusions. Marion Crane at the wheel of her car is suddenly a compassionate mother. Two glasses of milk – refreshingly cold on hot summer days – become portentous. And as hands are showered under a jet of water, we know what happens next.
Source: The Guardian
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