by Rachel Blackman.
Ovalhouse (Downstairs) 52-54 Kennington Oval SE11 5SW To 16 November 2013.
BSL Signed 12 Nov.
Runs: 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7582 7680.
Review: Carole Woddis 31 October.
Contemplating the Cosmos.
The fact that we are atoms flying in space has lent itself to many variations in theatre over the past few years, from Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy to Sound & Fury’s Going Dark to Nick Payne’s Constellations. New young Australian, UK-based performer Rachel Blackman and her Stillpoint company have found yet another way of contemplating the cosmos in a delightfully original piece employing text and physical performance.
Blackman has already been noted for an award-winning Triptych: Three Attempts at Love. This time she has teamed up with improvisation specialist and performer Jules Munn and together they have fashioned a bitter-sweet, sharp, tasty morsel of a show.
The narrative springs from the moment ‘he’ crashes into ‘her’ and how it changes both. Boy meets girl with a difference because Blackman’s character is a very English, bespectacled, boffin kind of character, caring for a father who once worked for NASA whilst he, a bit of a narcissist, American-Iranian, unhappy in neither homeland, seeks solace in a string of girl-friends.
Chalk and cheese, their moment of contact proves an opportunity to examine pasts, present and futures – she to go deeper into astrophysics and eventually take her own trip as the first women to the moon, he to create a new family.
The joy of the evening lies however not so much in their ultimate destinations as the manner of their journey. Blackman has an extraordinary, slightly dumpy figure that nonetheless can convey a wonderful variety of moods and movements with an awkwardness that becomes beautiful. Arching her back on a table, she suggests a floating being and most miraculously, the twitchings of a body in a coma reliving past lives. Munns, the driver of the car that crashes into her bicycle, sitting by her apparently comatose body, also conjures pictures of inner turmoil and despair with minimal but effective physicality.
Together, they form a fascinating complementary duo – she of bracing cheerfulness, he of melancholic introspection.
Praise to Lighting designer, Greg Mickelborough, designer Pearl Bates and all the company for the way they create a sense of cosmological wonder with such tiny resources.
Performers: Jules Munns, Rachel Blackman.
Co-Director/Dramaturgy: Paul Hodson.
Co-Director/Movement: Emma Roberts.
Designer/Costume: Pearl Bates.
Lighting: Greg Mickelborough.
Sound: a bit Greg, a bit Emma, a bit Rachel, a bit Lloyd.
Moon Project was commissioned by Ovalhouse with the support of Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, Southstreet Reading, the Nightingale Brighton and made possible with funds provided by the National Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
Moon Project was developed over a residency at Dartington Arts Centre funded by Fuel, with musician Nick Norton Smith.