Brain Matter(s)     

Venue 13

26/08/2016

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Script: four-stars Stagecraft: four-stars  Performance: five-stars

“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing,” according to Marcus Aurelius. Luckily, we get both in equal measure here from two very talented young performers, Liz Blake and Danny Boardman.

Ostensibly the show is an enquiry into the nature of being, the artists each being one side of the brain and moving from foetus to birth through the various  stages of life until death. On the journey we get some recognisable questions and conundrums: marriage or independence? Am I in love? Is he right for me? Where did I leave the car keys? Have I turned into my parents? All very apt and amusing, but the real joy is in watching these two superb performers demonstrate their art: the show is primarily physical theatre and their physical prowess is impressive and beautiful. The show begins with the performers dancing in the womb, then wrestling while learning to stand up and walk, and finally dancing in a beautiful interlocking manoeuvre demanding great skill and stamina. Their range is impressive too, able to move from dramatic situations to the comic: an example being the sexual positions adopted while going through the, is he right for me stage of modern life—the audience laughing loudly in recognition and appreciation of the creativity on stage. The performers also handle the switch in tone and mood in the second half of the production with great skill as we move from innocence to experience, and the life questions beginning to revolve around mortality and achievement. I’d also like to comment on the dynamics of the relationship between the performers; the audience could feel the artistic symmetry at work and showed their appreciation at the finale, the applause mixing with loud whoops.

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Apart from the main performers, the dramatic impetus of the show is developed through the work of Chris Everett and his creative musical choices that certainly enhances the drama taking place on stage; in addition to the music the production makes use of disembodied voices representing significant relationships on life’s journey: parents, boyfriends, driving instructor! Leading to the repeated phrase of “Please put on your seatbelt!”, first heard in the womb and repeated by the performers years later when they have their own children.

The show ends with the reckoning: the one prop on stage being a trunk, for most of the play a symbol of life’s travels, but now a casket for the aging actors; on the side is written a small list of human aspirations that can be fulfilled, like having children, again bringing to mind Marcus Aurelius, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking”.

Reviewer : Paul Rivers

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Posted on August 28, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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