Sunday 9th October
Gala Theatre Studio
Review by Eloise Pearson
After a long night I woke up hungover, not in the literal sense of the word, but in a way that seemed quite fitting for a live art performance about the student experience. Matt Miller’s event, ‘Sticking’ was hosted at the Gala Theatre Studio. His is a solo show that poignantly combines poetry and autobiography, but it is also a piece that is incredibly musical. Miller takes to the stage and informs us that twelve songs will serve as our guide into this odyssey of mayhem, madness and MDMA.
Miller opens his university experience in a ‘shitty dorm room’ looking onto the bins. This is a relatable place for anyone who has ever had to live in the more ‘affordable’ end of the university accommodation spectrum. He describes the hedonism of Freshers Week, the feeling of absolutes and excitement I think a lot of people first feel when they gain the freedom of leaving home. He is in love with the places, the people, everything about his new life. The first songs of the play scream confidence. Cheesy club anthems, familiar to any students, give the piece a slightly ironic tone. These songs ‘stick’ – to use a fitting adjective – the work together and without them the experience would lack an immersive quality.
The piece explores themes of masculinity and mental health. Vented through aggression, anxiety and depression are subtly and sensitively represented. As Miller describes his feelings of rage and insecurity, the music swells to a state of hyper-masculinity. The desire to be bigger, to make yourself larger, to rage and storm at the world is intensely human and moving. The come down is harrowing.
In ‘Sticking’ Miller describes the University experience as making one feel that they are, “here but not here…not where you’re meant to be, or should be, but are”. I felt that not only is this true for university, and to some larger extent life, but also of watching the show itself. It felt almost voyeuristic. The experiences were candid, sensitive and extremely personal. Miller explores the topic of his own bisexuality; something that I think often gets a bad press or simply disregarded altogether.
At times the piece becomes extremely personal. Miller graphically describes homosexual encounters, such as almost losing his virginity to a man he meets in a club. People can be put off live art by encounters like this. Audiences tend to like a filter between the staged and raw experience. But I think that it really worked in ‘Sticking’. Yes, the honestly makes you feel a little vulnerable. But at the end of the day that’s what makes it so compelling.