NZ Fringe Special Review: We May Have to Choose

We May Have to Choose is not for everyone.  Poetic and deceptively simple, We May Have to Choose is a stream-of-consciousness waterfall of personal opinions, from the banal to the profound.  There’s no story, no “characters”, no staged conflict.  Instead, performer Emma Hall asks her audience to stay with her and consider what opinions we choose to spend our time on.

Every bit of this show is calculated to focus your attention on the opinions expressed and your response to them.  The elegant design choices highlight content: a blank white screen contrasting with Hall’s dark, structured clothing.  Gradual light and sound changes underscore moments of heaviness or levity, and Hall’s command of her material and delivery and precise, even rigid, physicality place attention back on the stream of opinions coming from her mouth.

Hall’s gentle and open but unyielding presence, her eyes wide and sparkling, offers rather than demands that we accept her statements.  Her assertions are personal and deceptively simple, ranging from opinions on heaters and toasters to Australian immigration policies and baristas.  The simple declarative statements drop individually but unceasingly, like water dripping into a pool of still water.

As a result, I find myself undergoing profound changes of consciousness in response to her show. At first, I hold up each statement like a jewel, examining it for flaws, but I’m soon unable to keep up with the torrent of opinions.  My own presence fades in an out, until specific moments jolt me back into myself and the theatre. Dismayed at my own lack of presence, I settle into a placid but intense examination of the context of Hall’s statements, allowing the order of statements to change their meaning.

I’ve heard some criticism that the show’s overt political message fails to inspire.  And in my opinion, that’s OK.  I found myself questioning for days after the show how I do or do not accept another’s opinions, and when I am or am not willing to let myself join or differentiate with others based on our thinking.  The politics of this show, for me, are less to do with Australia, and more to do with how we choose to spend our precious attention. And I was thoroughly willing to spend my attention on We May Have to Choose.  It captivates, creating a meditative, poetic experience.

– Shannon Friday
We May Have to Choose is playing at Bats Theatre as part of NZ Fringe, 2 – 11 March.
NZ Fringe runs 10 February – 5 March and is the craziest, most vibrant and bizarre time in Wellington. Get out of your comfort zone, and get amongst as many Fringe bits as possible!

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of the Fringe Festival