Student Louise Mane (Jillian Pullara) is presenting her thesis in the year 2004, speaking of her admiration for the fictive conceptual artist Janet Adler. She describes Adler’s life and her relationship with her long-term partner Margaret Gibb, occasionally calling for a slide. When she does this, we switch to a scene ten years later, where a woman actor (Cath Whitefield) is in the forest with a filmmaker (Mark Edel-Hunt) preparing for her role as Janet Adler in the film of Adler’s life. First, they stand silent and staring out into the audience, becoming more clearly defined characters as the play progresses. A child loiters onstage as a silent stagehand, her instructions whispered to her through large headphones by a visible technician.
Adler & Gibb is a complex piece of theatre by Tim Crouch, which examines our society’s fascination with reality and authenticity and its relationship with theatre. However, it often feels a little too clever for its own good. It requires your brain to be firmly in gear and even then you will probably leave a little perplexed. Towards the end, it turns into a sort of thriller, which gives the audience a tangible storyline to cling onto, followed by a series of bizarrely creepy images of the house where action has taken place in, which up until now we have only been able to imagine. It certainly makes a comment on the inauthenticity of theatre and our obsession with the truth behind the art, and I’d like to go and watch it again. However, ultimately it would have been more enjoyable if it challenged our ideas while engaging us, rather than trying to outsmart us.