THE SEAGULL EFFECT
Idle Motion Tour to 14 May 2012.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 March at New Diorama London.
Drama with a hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
It only takes her mobile ringing to start this woman telling what happened to her 25 years ago. Being born by the looks of her, but it seems she was going for a job in weather-forecasting. And so Idle Motion, very mobile but not at all idle, whisk us back to 1987 through visual newsbytes from intervening years. A lot of the images fragment on the cast’s opened umbrellas, where huge, poignant raindrops also visually fall.
Behind it all lies what elsewhere in science has been called the butterfly effect, or chaos theory. A Saharan child (wood-puppet walking on umbrella surface) kicks-up some sand with its feet. Taken into the air it has chain consequences that lead to tempestuous weather in some other part of the world.
Here’s it’s the great British hurricane of 1987. A ‘phone call from a woman whose son at university has predicted it demands TV weatherman Michael Fish be told, and surely enough, there he is on TV reporting a woman has rung with the news. He dismisses it, but acknowledges it is going to be very windy.
Idle Motion are fecund with their theatrical invention of the gusts, from a wind-machine littering the stage with objects (without assaulting front-row audience hairstyles) and chorically wind-blown umbrellas. Group movement’s inventive too, as when the audience-woman makes her way with effort through chairs facing the wrong way, till they swiftly turn around to form a Brighton-bound coach.
Along with the weather’s wider impact there’s the story of two individuals’ gusty relationship. She calls on her former partner to escape the storm. They sleep together but can’t help rubbing each other the wrong way. It takes all the force of two jabbing umbrella points at the door to stop her walking out on the domestic storm inside.
The flow of images is made coherent by their scenes and the sense of factual explanation suggesting wider, unexpressed significance. Idle Motion need to perk up in the vocal department; several spoken performances are unconvincing. But as an ensemble and in their visual imagery they are startling, approachable and highly invigorating.
Audience Member: Grace Chapman.
Man: Joel Gatehouse.
Woman: Kate Stanley.
Ensemble: Sophie Cullen, Nicholas Pitt, Ellie Simpson.
Sound: Adam Washington.
Dramaturg: Thomas Conway.