Ada / Ava
Always expect the unexpected, huh? I wasn’t expecting this. Chicago based Manual Cinema does what it says on the tin – it creates a movie of sorts from projectors & actresses silhouetted on the screen. Supreme aesthetics indeed, & all the more riveting for watching the crew create the spectacle below the screen – it is in essence like watching two plays at once. It is all rather like a radio play, but a hell of a lot more complicated, like the mechanical workings of an early computer. Technically, Manual Cinema are flawless – amazing musicianship (cello, keyboards & guitar) combining with what can only be described as a cycle squad on the Tour de France pedaling frantically through the course, where if someone falls off the pace, the entire team will suffer. There is not room for one mistake in this performance – & I’m happy to say there wasn’t one.
Ada & Ava are sisters of the spinsterly, sexlessly intimate kind – you see them around sometimes out & about in our towns & cities, doing everything today. This play plunges us into the lives & home – an eerie monochrome world of symbolism – carnivals, graveyards & lighthouses all set the backdrop for the story. Now this is an enthralling story of sisterly love — when death even cannot separate that bond!! Silent except for a soundscape of stormy rumblings & ticking clocks, the elixir of entertainment drops ambrosia about half way through, when things get very phantasmagorical & genuinely scary indeed – I wouldn’t take anyone younger than 12 along, for sure. Rather like a German Gothic novel of the 18th century, Ada & Ava is an adventure into those places which exist in the hidden cloisters of our subconscious, the places where bats hang from the willow trees, whose skeletal branch-tendrils sway in an oily black, bubbling stream.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen