Today I perform The Kraken Goes Back to Bed, a solo show I wrote about unemployment, existential crises and cephalopods.
The Kraken Goes Back to Bed is a solo show by Chris Sav about trying to be a better man by becoming a squid. It follows the format of a lecture, in which the speaker presents a series of ‘cephalopodic life hacks’ – applying the attributes of a squid to the various trials of everyday life. From filling out job application forms to attempting great feats of manliness (opening a jam jar), this talk will prove that there is no task that a squid can’t do better than a human.
The show uses video, music and audience interaction to take the audience on a journey into the depths. The narrative likens one’s existential struggles to the descent into the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans – a depth of which equals the distance between Lancing and Goring-by-Sea, (although it doesn’t sound as impressive when you put it like that). As the pressure increases, so does the need to adapt to the uncertain environment that lies beneath.
The theme of anxiety lies at the core of the show, a result of the millennial crisis sediment that has floated down through unemployment, precariousness and YouTube culture. The show also addresses what masculinity means in the 21st Century by parodying the expectations and traditional notions.
The Kraken Goes Back to Bed teeters between the comic and tragic by using pop culture references and deadpan physical comedy against the backdrop of an uncertain post-Brexit climate, whilst highlighting the humour and pathos that lies in wanting to embody a creature so vastly different to ourselves.
The show wavers between fact and fiction, leaving the audience to question what is real and what is not, and perhaps to accept that sometimes, just believing you are a squid is enough.
“Chris’ depiction of the kraken was pretty accurate.”
– 18th Century Zoologist Carl Linnaeus
I’ve found myself thinking about the Mariana Trench a lot over the last few weeks. What exactly has triggered my thoughts to be directed towards the deepest part of the world’s oceans? Perhaps it was Theresa May’s inaugural speech as prime minister, in which she said:
“Brexit means Brexit. But it also means plunging further into the depths. David Cameron has led a one government nation further and further beneath, and it is in that spirit that I plan to steer Britain down through a water column that exerts a pressure of 1,068 bars – enough to crush the head of a grown man into a pulp.”
Soon after uttering these words, May exiled Michael Gove back to the Mariana Trench to join the rest of the snailfish, to reflect on the decisions he’d made whilst foraging for detritus along the ocean floor. I wondered if I, along with the rest of my generation, would meet the same fate. In any case, it felt wise to try and prepare to take the plunge.
However, it was indeed harder than I thought. As I sat there despondently, arm bands chafing slightly against my skin, in front of a ten-page application form for a sales assistant role at WHSmith, it was clear that I was in dire need of some motivation. A quick Google search of ‘ocean motivational quotes’ produced this:
I immediately felt inspired. If I could approach life with the vociferousness of a limpet, then I would be on the right path. I was filled with a lust for life, and proceeded to fill in my name and some of my GCSE results, plunging deeper before I began to run out of steam. What I really needed was some validation of my masculinity, so I had a rummage around in the attic for my old Action Prawn™.
While all the other boys in school were playing with Action Man, I had an Action Prawn™. It really helped me to develop the hard shell I needed to be a man, as well as being able to meet the expectation to bottle up my emotions like a ready-made Marie Rose sauce from Morrison’s.
The best thing about Action Prawn ™ was the fact that it wasn’t concerned with the usual stuff like fighting crime and battling evil, but whether it could land that dream admin assistant job. I recalled the Action Prawn theme tune, “Action Prawn / He does things / He’s enthusiastic / He’s willing to learn.” I sang it to myself over and over again like a mantra until I felt enthusiastic enough to carry on filling out the application form.
Driven by the zeal of the crustacean, I proceeded to apply for several jobs as I plunged deeper and deeper into uncertainty. I learnt to adapt, and my skin now comprised of the countless rejection emails I had received. I was like Godzilla, harnessing energy from the chaotic climate, albeit a more anxious creature (however, that’s not to say that Godzilla didn’t suffer from anxiety). After months of listening to One Direction whilst The Blue Planet was on in the background, I was ready to take up the mantle. I was applying for jobs again, and between krill sandwiches, I was filled with a new cephalopodic confidence that forced me further downwards into the unknown. What would happen when I reached the bottom? According to Naturalist and Philosopher Nigel Heidegger, the only things that can be found at a depth of 10,916 metres are sea cucumbers that had previously been discarded from salads. I was trying to be a giant squid, but perhaps I was nothing more than a sea cucumber, or worse, an ocean gherkin. All I could do was to carry on swimming deeper, to feel the dark water glide over my tentacles as I sung along to What Makes You Beautiful, and maybe I’d find the strength to emerge one day.
When you get another rejection email and you’re like…
If this amused you and you’d like to see more of Unemployman’s adventures, they can be found HERE