…. Creative use of simple props.  Suspended on back wall is a TV set, permanently on (sound selectively audible).  Three chairs and a table for a computer and lamp.

Scene 1:  The three performers rise from their chairs in the front seat of the theatre and, backs to the audience and glass in hand, move towards the TV, other arm raised as if to hail or salute a leader (or god?)

Suddenly, they are shaking violently.  Is this a reference to being plugged in?  Wired up? Logged on?  Even when they sit on the chairs, these too shake.  Then, rising in unison, they circle, pace, their breath heavy. They move as if to attack the TV, a kind of storming or ambush – wave upon wave of soldiers on the attack.   When they finally hit the wall, they stand breathing heavily and eyeballing the audience.

Scene 2:  As TV ads for a power drill, Placemakers, meat, and MacDonalds blare out, they lean back in their chairs, with opened newspapers over their faces and heads.  I think: ‘blinded by one-sided reporting?’ ‘Information overload’?

One giggles somewhat guiltily as they begin to destroy their newspapers, circling around each other, tearing the papers into pieces and throwing them all over the stage.  The action builds to a climax as papers are punched, kicked, skated on, used as shoes, twirled upon, eaten, gorged even –  as if to say, to hell with all this ‘news’ that is being literally stuffed down our throats.  At one point, the paper is folded like a flower into someone’s mouth.  At another, it is worn as clothing,  ‘plastered’ against their bodies as they run around the stage.

Scene 3:  Delightfully naturalistic, highlighting the inanity of much that is ‘said’ on Facebook and the frustrations of bad connections with Skype.  Reception breaks up, mundane talk exchanged.  All the while, the two other performers are lying on their sides, using their bodies like hinging caterpillars to manuoevre the paper into the centre of the stage.  I think of those ‘gyres’ or rubbish piles circulating in the middle of oceans.

Scene 4:  Why are they biting the cord?    A frantic desire to stop being hooked in, logged on, wired up, sucked in?  They run in parallel paths, missing each other.  Till at last, personal contact! There is a huge sense of relief and poignancy as Fleur and Gareth actually hold and touch each other.   Now they are flying, clasping hands as if to say ‘lean on me’, to an electronic score like underwater breathing.

In this work, there are a couple of unison dance sequences, but the piece is more experimental physical theatre than dance.  It is honest.  It is heartfelt.  And it thoughtfully explores the inadequacies of ‘virtual’ communication.  The three give committed performances and we sympathise with their anger at information overload, their disillusionment with consumerism, their frustrations with technology –  and their very palpable yearning for something much more REAL.

What is wanted – and won – is personal contact, physical contact.  Face-to-face, body- to-body communication and connection.  In the final moments, the TV is switched off – a defiant rejection of the virtual world.

 Jo Thorpe, 2 March 2012
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