Theatre Ellipsis is a brand new group billed as a physical theatre company producing new and original work. This production sees Matt Rothwell play John and Ben Moores play ‘the brain’s admin department’.
Absence of Separation questions what is the meaning of life, the purpose of humans and the co-existence of everything and the existence of nothing. The play touches on Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, spirituality, contemporary society, depression, consciousness, psychology, dreams, addiction and fairy tales.
As we enter the Pauper’s Pit we are greeted by the droning sound of the bagpipes and the two actors motionless at the side of the stage. They then started to sing with a haunting quality about transformation. John has a fall in the shower and as a result, is in the place between life and death where decisions are made.
There is a real intensity about and commitment to this piece by the two actors who work tirelessly throughout this show. I liked the development of John’s character and his growing enlightenment. Ben Moores has an excellent unsettled quality to his character. There were some good moments. I do however think that the play is overlong and even with the chalk drawings and the dancing and the cup, this played more like a drunken philosophical conversation late at night than a piece of theatre that the audience could really connect with.
I did appreciate the fact they were trying to push the boundaries. However, this play contains many, many, many words. So many that it is hard to follow the logic, if indeed logic even exists or is merely a concept. There is no time to think and digest the ideas that are being thrown out there. I think their physical theatre skills should have been utilised to a greater extent. Movement could have said so much more and been more powerful than the constant barrage of language.
What should a person do with their life…is there any meaning to it? Who really knows? You need to go deeper than words they said. But the words just kept on coming and coming and coming.
If you want to see a piece of theatre that offers you lots of words and a cup as a concept then this is the show for you! I may never get the vision out of my head of a man in a Lycra body suit stroking an Adidas trainer whilst repeating that ‘chickens have elbows’!!! This reviewer needs a lie down, if in fact my bed really exists!
This accomplished group of actors have created a thoroughly enjoyable play about a couple who met on the beach one summer in 1952 and should have spent the rest of their lives together had fate not taken an unexpected twist.
Emily Florence Hutchings and Peter Pearson are instantly convincing as the starstruck lovers, Fran and Finn, so very much in love as they ballroom dance together, but things never become overly sentimental thanks to the strong thread of humour in writer/director Andy Moseley’s script. We learn how Finn, a fairground worker and ballroom enthusiast, mischievously pretends to be playing a game of football in order to accidentally-on-purpose kick a ball into Fran’s lap. And we learn how Fran is cute enough to know exactly what his real game is and to play along prettily.
As a teasing flirtation quickly turns into romance, we begin to have hints that Fran is hiding a secret that could threaten their future together but just as they seem to be overcoming this obstacle, tragedy strikes and with it a terrible blow to Fran’s sense of self-worth.
It is not a spoiler to say that they do eventually get together in old age because the tale is told in flashback with Finn’s son, John (Math Sams), acting as best man at their wedding, his speech exploring their tortuous relationship. Andrew Jefferson-Tierney is hilarious as Fran’s son Brad, drunkenly heckling John, tut-tutted by his wife Jen (Joanna Pope). Math Sams should also be given credit for successfully playing his part at very short notice after the late withdrawal of a member of the original cast. Cleverly, he hides any hesitation with best man nerves and when he refers to his script, it seems only that he is looking at his speech.
This is what some audiences might call (with relief) a “proper play”, with costumes, simple sets, well-chosen music and film footage adding to the period feel. While it may not be quite pacy enough for all tastes, this is a production with real heart, proving gentle, touching and amusing by turns.
St John's Church, 22nd July
We know that Beethoven went deaf, that Schubert contracted syphilis and that Gesualdo murdered his wife. Bits of gossip become part of our collective consciousness but often we find that these fragments, these facts, are without context. Breaking the Rules is a wonderful and beautiful attempt to tell us more about the murderer Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613. This musical drama coincides with the 450th anniversary of his birth - a date agreed on relatively recently by scholars).
The drama is set on the last day of Gesualdo's life. He is living alone and he is recalling his sinful life. Whilst he has written much heavenly vocal music to the glory of God he has an uneasy relationship with Him. Gesualdo anticipates being condemned to purgatory. Not only did he brutally murder his first wife and her lover - finding them in bed together - he has treated his second wife cruelly and been repeatedly adulterous. Just two weeks ago his only surviving son died; a depressed, bitter and angry Gesualdo faces death knowing he has no heir and at odds with his maker.
For Breaking the Rules we have a narrative given to Gesualdo (compellingly acted and performed by Gerald Kyd) surrounded by the six voices of the Marian Consort singing from his sacred music and his madrigals.
The Marian Consort is young but has rapidly acquired a reputation for the sheer quality of its singing and performance. The music of Gesualdo is wondrous to listen to but not easy to sing. Moreover the Consort made full use of the generous space in St John's Church processing singly at across the body of the church whilst singing perfectly.
This was a memorable performance - not only for the richness of the music but also for the insight offered into the difficult personal life of the composer. The text was written by Clare Norbury and Natalie Rowland and Pitchblack Lighting provided images projected onto the church organ.