A lot of artists wax lyrical about the merits of liveness – the way performance unites people like nothing else. Few walk the walk as well as free-form comedian Trevor Lock. Community Circle does nothing else.
It is, in effect, a conjuring trick. Lock magics up an hour-long comic show out of nothing: no script, no set, no subject, no story. All he’s got is us, today’s arbitrary audience, and whatever we bring to the circle. The show, which supposedly never starts, is nothing but an act of people wrangling, marshalling his crowd into material, joshing with us and getting us to josh along. Plenty do, with pleasure.
At the show’s centre are canny content generators. Lock finds offical photographers, water holders, cultural explainers and, crucially, four volunteers to take extensive notes. Ostensibly an experiment to see where they overlap, it tees up a feedback loop as each set of notes takes note of the next. Ta-da: a community circle.
Lock dwells, drolly, on the discrepancies between descriptions and revels in the stray offshoots of thought and, before long, his personable absurdity proves contagious. It’s to his credit that we end up laughing and playing along, turning a roomful of strangers into smiling acquaintances.
The question is: To what end? Too often the room’s egotists take up the most space and in-jokes among existing friendship groups proliferate. Lock’s in the middle, juggling our jokes, but this temporary community starts to splinter long before we all go our separate ways.