I am scared of many things. Creaks in the night. Ghosts. Sambucca. But I have only one fear, one source of terror that does not disappear with the sun’s return. I fear the loss of my mind.
I fear this, because my mind is my treasure. I love thinking, analysing, stripping away the veils and gazing on the visage beneath. I love building my mind, adding new structures along which thoughts might wind their way towards conclusion. When I embark on full-blown monologues, grabbing at words, assembling theories, experiences and stories, that rise around me like towers built in timelapse, the sensation is glorious: like dancing amongst the gods. My mind is my treasure. As such I fear its loss.
So I cling to it, and guard it, jealous and dragonish. At the merest intrusion, my ego may don scales and wings, rear its arrogant head and pour forth condescending smog, to hide the inconvenience from my sight. Then, with all threats obscured, I sprawl upon my gold, clinging to it so tightly that jewels and coins embed themselves within my hide.
Yet still I know that no matter how tightly I grip, someday I might lose my mind regardless. My memory is already awful. My speech is peppered with constant halts as I scramble for words or names I bloody knew just a moment before. For now that’s just a comedic fallibility, but age has a habit of turning humorous things into scary things. So, scared as I am, it’s understandable that It’s Dark Outside ravaged me.
It wasn’t a violent ravaging. It’s Dark Outside is actually exquisitely gentle, proceeding slowly and smoothly to music with the pace of a silt-rich river. It’s just that this gentle tale concerned an old man riding through a Western-inspired dreamscape, losing his mind piece by piece. It is a beautiful play, even through a haze of tears. A mixture of live action, cartoon, silhouette and puppetry, this is a show of true and varied craftsmanship. The manipulation of perspective to give the silhouette sections a camera-shot aesthetic is particularly effective at building tension. What’s more, it is a well-told story. There is not a scrap of established fact that goes unused in the lead up to the heart-rending ending.
It’s Dark Outside is a show of beauty. It’s not a striking beauty. Awareness of it comes as gently as the holding of a hand. Yet this softness serves to make the show all the more terrible, because it suggests that the worst loss that I can imagine is not a threat (and something that might be fought) but an inevitability. The loss, it says, is part of life, and life is sometimes terrible. So it goes.
And so I sat. Out in the darkness beyond the stage I sat, and watched my worst fears unfold, face coated in a hardening glaze of snot and tears, and eyes still leaking fluid for the awfulness and beauty of inevitable loss.