Double Bill: Some Other Future and The Big Smoke

Unity Theatre
Tuesday 31st May 2011

Reviewed by Laura Naylor

Local, national and international artists joined forces this week as part of Physical Fest 2011. This evening, the Unity played host to a Double Bill featuring performances from both the Scottish Dance Theatre and Theatre Ad Infinitum. It was an unusual pairing and both proved to be quite challenging pieces.

By definition, physical theatre is a highly visual mode of performance and, without a vocal narrative, it is quite baffling to determine the story being told, instead audiences have to rely on the emotions this acting style evokes as a means of catharsis. The performers in Some Other Future presented images of a funeral, the crucifixion and two brothers/friends/lovers coming to blows throughout. There was little in the way of props to allude to a specific time or place but the use of jam - greedily devoured one moment and used to emulate blood the next - along with the music, seemed to imply something like a war torn state, a time of sorrow and poverty. It left the audience despondent and perplexed; “I didn’t get it!” was a common response.

The second part of this ‘Double Bill’ came from Amy Nostbakken of Theatre Ad Infinitum. Once again this was an extremely moving piece focusing on a young artist’s descent into madness culminating in her suicide. The Big Smoke opens with a woman on stage wearing an old pink prom dress which immediately conjured up rather pathetic ‘Carrie-esque’ images. She begins to sing her story, including the voices of other people in her life, and we learn about her relationships with various family members and particularly one with a young law student from her college days who not only managed to chip away at her spirit but also took away her only chance of satisfaction by dumping her first.

Although interlaced with moments of dark humour, her desperation becomes more apparent as she clings to some sense of self. Her sanity is gradually ebbing away towards the end and she finishes by simply singing “I died”. I was quite relieved when it was all over, not due to the standard of performance at all, it was beautifully executed but the evening had been emotionally draining. I’d suggest that anyone viewing these at future events shouldn’t go if they are already feeling blue, or at the very least have something happy and fun to do afterwards.

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