The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury
Music: Kim Heron
#Tweetingit – My Verdict in 140 characters
5* Beyond stunning – there are no other words for this show.
The audience leave the theatre in silence. The women wipe away the mascara and try to blot their red eyes while the men puff out their chests and try to pretend that it didn’t effect them. It is absolutely astounding that a production with no words and done purely with physical theatre and mime, can have the sort of affect on you that Translunar Paradise has managed to have on an entire audience. Ad Infinitum’s fantastic production takes you through the life, death, enduring memories and fervid love of a couple, tackling the loss of loved ones, of youth and of the person you once were.
The synopsis in the program of this play does not do it justice. Portraying the lives of a couple who have been together through good times and bad, the story confronts the subject of what it is like to go through bereavement at an old age; losing the person in your life you have loved most, the person you have been through everything with and whom you have rituals and habits with. Left alone following the death of his wife, the elderly man has to learn how to cope. With the help of his wife (not really a ghost but a more of a presence) he learns to let go of her and work out how he will function without her. In turn this allows her to leave as well; her mind at rest that he is going to survive.
There are only two performers who play the couple in both their early and later years. The use of some extraordinary masks, which despite being unmoving, had endless emotion coming through them, and the impressive physicality of the actors – minute shakes in their hands, slight unease on their feet and then the complete opposite for their younger roles, means the audience are completely sucked into the story.
The sound was incredible and it was all done with nothing but an accordion and the musician’s voice. The accordion served as a way to push the story along; it was a clock, the wind, breathing as well as producing resplendent melodies and beautiful wordless vocals. Each song had a theme which led the audience to understand what era the characters were in and whether we should expect a happy or sad moment.
Mention physical theatre and people roll their eyes. Trust me: there should be no eye rolling her. A mixture of interpretive movement, physical theatre and mime allows the audience to see this couple of dancing through their lives together from their first meeting to their final moments. This production is brilliant because it explains the simple things which affect people when their partner dies in a way that words cannot. For 60 years he has got out 2 cups from the cupboard and poured for both himself and his wife. Now she is gone, what does he do with the other cup? This is a feeling which is indescribable so they don’t try to. Words would not work here. Yes the significant moments are seen; their first meeting, a heart breaking loss, her getting her first job, him going to war, but this isn’t about the big things. Instead it is the day-to-day stuff which one must continue on with despite having lost their loved ones.
Despite being extremely sad it is also heart-warming. There are some achingly funny moments tinged with sorrow – as she steals her cup from the table to stop him from continuing with his rituals, much to his shock. The relationship between the characters , their playfulness and their understanding of one another after a lifetime together, is still evident despite the grief they are both feeling having lost one another.
The Marlowe Studio have really never let their audiences down with the quality of productions they have hosted. Having seen four shows there, I have been blown away each and every time by the effect the shows have had on both me and the rest of the audience. The close proximity to the stage and the ability to bring the audience into the performance by way of clever sounds, lighting and sometimes even smells, ensures a very different theatrical experience to that in a larger auditorium and Translunar Paradise is just the next level of brilliance brought to this theatre.
Just mentioning his lone tea cup after the show brought tears back to my eyes. An unbearable image so perfectly portrayed. This show was highly praised when it was at the Edinburgh Festival and it is quite understandable why. Yes the narrative is a tad predictable but it really does not matter. Yes it is sad, but the tears are worth it. Go to see this show – if for nothing else but to realise physical theatre really can be a beautiful and powerful art form if done as well as Ad Infinitum have.