Gecko on tour (as part of This Way Up) To 28 May 2003

Also playing Battersea Arts Centre 8-27 July
Tue-Sat 8pm Sun 6pm
TICKETS 020 7223 2223

Runs 1hr No interval
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 April at Warwick Arts Centre

Content hardly keeps up with brilliance of technique.Deep down in Battersea, up Lavender Hill way, the arts centre bac under director Tom Morris has been developing modern currents in theatre. Switching expectations as it does alphabetical order in its name, bac has presented a season of theatre (deriving from Greek to see’) in total darkness. And as an art-form where words still have a pretty big say, bac has been developing new vocabularies in physical, non-verbal pieces literally, shows.

Now it’s taking to the road with four companies working innovatively. Gecko’s company members have worked with an impressive list of physical theatre artists, including David Glass, Lindsay Kemp and Steven Berkoff. So it’s no surprise their physical skills and group co-ordination are exemplary.

Chairs and table-tops swing through the air, passed from performer to performer in a smooth, non-stop series of swirling arcs. A restaurant, complete with table-dancer is played out in an inversion of vertical and horizontal planes.

Adept technique’s evident from the opening, where the cast suddenly freeze until they’re liberated by touch as if a life-current passed briefly through them. It’s a good game, a movement exercise given expressive force.

What’s it all for? Coventry audiences divided into those who understood what it was all about and those who hadn’t a clue. I think the second lot were closer. There’s a sense of relationships between men and women (with only one woman, enigmatically remote, on stage the one dummy not involved in the opening chain-sequence). Men may aspire to a great door looming from above, requiring an uphill struggle to enter a personal heaven, but they remain little boys – authority-crammed voices filling them with childhood dread.

It seems opportunistic the figure boomingly addressed by disembodied commands is suddenly named as a pun-permitting Taylor. There’s a sense the material’s there to allow the physically-skilled performances to go on show. That scenes occur as spurs for ingenious theatrical ideas. Rather than an urgency to explore ideas necessitating the displays of physicality.

If that’s enough of an excuse, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Amit Lahav, Al Nedjari, Corinne Pierre, David Price, Joseph Traynor

Designer: Ruth Finn and the company
Lighting: Ian Scott

2003-05-05 11:52:43

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