Thursday, 13 February 2020

THEATRE REVIEW: A Little Space - HOME, Manchester

This collaborative physical theatre piece from Mind The Gap and Gecko Theatre Companies is set in a tower block, showing us the lives of five different people within. Created over two years, this piece of performance asks the question; what does it mean to have a little space and to be alone? The audience is asked to interpret what they see in their own personal ways.

Running for 65 minutes with no interval, this production is clearly designed to permeate all of the viewers’ senses and completely encapsulate them. The use of sound and lighting here was spectacular in helping to achieve this. Dave Price and Mark Melville, the show’s composer and head of sound design respectively, created a never-ending soundscape combined with a melody that ebbed and flowed, following the characters’ emotional journeys. The play’s opening displayed a performer banging on pipes that made up the majority of the set, creating a range of inviting sounds. This opening set the tone for the play well. The lighting design again allowed the audience to become fully embedded within the show. Designed by Chris Swain, there were such intricate and extensive uses of lighting to represent anxiety and isolation, as well as freedom and happiness.

An alternative piece of theatre, in which there is no traditional speech or conversations on stage, only movement to reveal relationships of the characters. The five actors (Paul Bates, Lorraine Brown, Alison Colborne, JoAnne Haines and Charlotte Jones) worked seamlessly as an ensemble, in which they all wove seamlessly around one another, morphing from visible characters within the scene to almost additional items of props.

A truly sensory and visceral experience to be had at this production. One audience member by me remarked that each flat within the tower block gave us a different smell. It was a shame that I did not notice this during the production, but I suppose that further adds to the purpose of each audience member having a different experience and connecting in a different way. This performance blends the ordinary with the extraordinary, from watering plants and watching television, to hearing music in the walls and being dragged underneath the floorboards. The set design from Rhys Jarman was very elaborate in this way, morphing into different locations with parts of the floor being removed or altered.

This alternative and non-naturalistic production is one that will be perceived differently by all audience members, and due to its unusual style will undoubtedly have some who like and dislike the show. For me, there were moments of extreme honestly, coupled with moments of genuine hilarity.

Reviewer - Megan Relph
on - 11/2/20

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