THE VANISHING HORIZON
devised by Idle Motion.
Tour to 18 June 2011.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Martin Franks 4 March at The Junction Studio Cambridge.
So many inventive means to a limited end.
Enthusiastic and committed, Idle Motion come to venues in their current tour with some good reviews, star ratings, award-nominations and 2010 Edinburgh Fringe ‘Sell-out’ acclaim. And I love studio theatre – the immediacy, the involvement, the daring of the performers to create within a hair’s breadth of their audience.
And in this show, the company produces some wonderful visual moments – the translucent windows in one of the ubiquitous suitcases with a domestic fan behind representing an aeroplane propeller; a suitcase as a window in a Johannesburg hotel slammed shut, excluding the raucous street; the wonderful concertina couch; the feathers as corpse ashes.
And the three storyline strands – a radio documentary about early female aviators, the relationship between a runaway, adventure-seeking Grandmother and her ashes-seeking Granddaughter, linked by the relationship of the radio actor and the granddaughter – are lovely ideas.
There are some good performances, principally Nick Pitt as James and Ellie Simpson as Anna and some excellent comic scenes – the nosey stranger at the airport springs to mind. But in the end, in only one hour it doesn’t make a play.
A short play is a bit like a short story. Focus is all. There are just too many ideas here. We skitter across the key relationship between the generations, while the apparently central theme of daring pioneer women who braved the skies seems almost shoe-horned in to provide an opportunity for the wonderful visuals. And is the boy/girl relationship anything more than a standard couple separated for a while?
All this limits the emotional and intellectual journey, and gives limited opportunity to get to know the main characters and ideas. Less would have been more here, so we could have explored more thoroughly in the short time of an hour one aspect of this broad and cluttered canvas.
Idle Motion are a wonderfully talented group full of beautiful ideas but much of the work they produce here feels immature. The group need a good writer and editor to bring it all under control and give it depth.
James: Nick Pitt.
Radio Technician: David Luke.
Female Aviator: Grace Chapman.
Female Aviator: Sophie Cullen.
Anna: Ellie Simpson.
Kitty: Kate Stanley.
Artistic Producer Paul Slater
Lighting: Greg Cebula.
Sound: Chris Williams.
Additional choreography: Jan Avery-Harris.