Wanting to make something that connected directly with their own lives, the company decided on the theme of pressure. The difficulties and frustrations they have to confront on a daily basis, mostly as people living with physical or learning disabilities.
Wanting spontaneity, uncertainty, they decided on an improvisational approach, so no two performances are quite the same.
Wanting control, they dispensed with conventional direction.
A safe space. At its edges, the lurking danger of expectation. Two long rows of seats on either side, the audience contemplating itself, seeing our faces as the actors see them. Black and white – the floor, soft black carpet. Everything else, white – woollen clouds lying in puddled reflection, dense spikey grass of plastic cable-ties growing at each end. A simple rope swing hanging from the ceiling. Another rope coiled on the floor, waiting to strike.
The actors, all in white, move around the space and begin to tell their stories, intersecting, undulating between calm and chaos. As the programme says: “Perfectionism, competition, pressure, expectation.” An older man is chased and set upon, a building sense of menace. Three men tussle for the position of First on a podium. A woman wanders the room clutching a pillow, her baby. Another, lost in herself, endlessly matches letters across two pages of a book, marking them out with her pen. The musician tries to convene a choir.
A man buries his head beneath a cloud, counting, counting, counting, 164, 165, 166 …
Frustrations build to moments of white noise, that AAAARGH when you just can’t take it anymore. Binding audience and cast together in something we can all relate to. Some remarkably expressive acting – haunting, deliberate – many stories told more through bodily movement than text. Moods built up, dashed down again. The audience laughing, empathizing, puzzling. Truly compelling, I could happily have watched this for hours.