LUCY AND THE HAWK
by Phil Ormrod co-devised by Tom Watson and Abigail Moffatt.
Oval House 52-54 Kennington Oval SE11 55W To 27 October 2012.
Runs: 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7582 7680.
Review: Carole Woddis 11 October.
Awash in yearning.
The title of this piece from northern company Switchback was intriguing. What was going to be the relationship between Lucy and the Hawk?
Hawks to me have a mystical quality. I remember once clambering the Buckinghamshire hills and falling upon a falcon trainer, the bird with a hooded head, clasped to its trainer’s forearm. Then it soared up, away, circled and amazingly returned to his trainer’s arm. I was spellbound.
And indeed, there is something transfiguring about this two-hander, written and directed by Switchback’s co-director Phil Ormrod. It’s partly the elliptical, poetic (if repetitive) nature of the script, recalling at various moments Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and even Samuel Beckett with its sudden one word exclamations. Then again, there is something in the nature of its presentation and its performers that succeeds in transporting us to other worlds.
Ormrod places each performer – the open-eyed, innocent-faced Lucy (Abigail Moffatt) and Tom Walton’s muscular, incredibly physical Elliott, almost overpowering the tiny upstairs Oval studio space – as narrators of each other’s performance, with overlapping speech.
At its best, this works handsomely, summoning up a polyphonic aura. There is a wonderful moment when Walton, a huge presence with something of a bird’s beaked facade about him, assumes the voice of lovelorn desperation down the phone to Moffatt’s emotionally besieged Lucy. His passion seems to match her confusion and silent longing.
And indeed, the piece is awash in yearning – she, you sense, for contact, almost any contact; he for the hills, and an identity carved from pitting itself against nature. From that point of view, Lucy and the Hawk unfortunately assumes gender stereotype with Lucy all passivity and Elliott all physical and intellectual action. Nor does the Hawk’s involvement seem immediately obvious, more man’s existential battle with the mystery of figures, shapes, and ultimately the aerodynamics of being at one with the outdoors.
Ormrod has said the piece was inspired by his moving to the North East and its rugged countryside. To that extent, he succeeds brilliantly, form and content merging to create open space in a tiny room. Walton, too, is mesmerising, all earth and flight, a Ted Hughes persona personified. More please.
Lucy: Abigail Moffatt.
Elliott: Tom Walton.
Director: Phil Ormrod.
Co-devisors: Tom Walton & Abigail Moffatt.
Designer Cecilia Carey.
Lighting: Tim Mascall.
Sound: Nick Williams.
Movement: Geoff Hopson.
Dramaturg: Oliver Lamford.
Associate lighting: Chris Withers.
A Switchback co-production with ARC Stockton in association with Northern Stage.