Created by Amit Lahav
Amit Lahav – Martin
Chris Evans – Daniel
Ryan Perkins-Gangnes – Carl
François Testory – Louise
Friday 23rd January 2015, 19.45
Gecko, in its own words:
creates a new language where body, space and emotions can articulate ideas louder than words … we are athletes of the heart.
Poole Lighthouse does superb dance and symphonic music. If only the theatre and rock music would catch up.
I’ve stated for years that rock bands never start on time, theatre always does. Confounded! Nearly fifteen minutes late, but all is forgiven. We were entranced, my companion insists it’s the first five star theatre of 2015.
The smoke machine tickled my throat, meaning I consumed a whole bottle of water (small) so went straight for a pee at the end … the smoke had filled the corridors and crept into the lobby areas. While I was peeing, the guy next to me said, ‘That was incredible, but what was it about?’ I said, ‘think of a long guitar solo that really hits the emotions. What’s that about?’ (And I can’t pee while chatting so then had to wait till I got home).
Martin in a restaurant with the plaster hands
It’s not a play, it’s not dance theatre. it has bits with clear dialogue, bits with muttered dialogue, lots with rhythmic grunting vocalisation. But while two of the four performers vocalise in English (Martin, Daniel), one speaks German (Karl) and the fourth, Louise, speaks French mainly, but veers into Italian. Language is a barrier to communication. Physical theatre is the best description.
The set consists of towers of filing cabinets in an institute, face it, a mental institute, full of “forgotten stories and re-cycled memories” (I’m quoting the flier here). Martin is desperate for one more conversation with Margaret, who jilted him, rejected his ring. Daniel climbs and moves to escape … though he climbs the set more on the stills than he did in the production. Karl seems to have some kind of post-traumatic stress, trying endlessly to open doors, get through stuff, but also endlessly falling silently backwards. Louise at first appears an authority figure, but stays in French. He is inveigled to role play Margaret in a wig and an orange coat, but ultimately succumbs to overt stripping off, grubby nightgown madness in a glass cage. The other three do an incredible long visceral dance routine with loud vocal noises in red lit smoke. Along the way we have original modern music by David Price, and fabulous found Great American Songbook memory pieces. like September Song, Blue Skies and These Foolish Things.
So no, I don’t know what it’s about either, but it’s brilliant.
It’s laden with memorable moments. As well as creating it, Amit Lahav plays Martin, commanding the stage for the initial minutes in a powerful, perfectly-timed performance. Martin having a restaurant conversation with Margaret’s plaster hands; Martin and Daniel doing the best “We always speak at the same time” routine I’ve ever seen … and believe me, that really is a hard one to do; then the slow backward falls; Daniel and Karl controlling Martin on long sticks, forcing him into conversation with a substitute Margaret in a glass cage.
Daniel & Martin: they speak at the same time
Our whole Health & Safety legislation system can quantify the value of a lost limb. As can insurance. But the Anglo-Saxons had a system to quantify that stuff back in 750 AD. We’re only just starting to assess and deal with mental fragility. For those who care for mentally disabled people, there’s the question of how much you can take. But parents and relatives who are carers have to deal with it and it has unexpected consequences for them, thus Louise, initially appearing to be a controller, ends up worst of all. The producers say they spoke to carers, elders, colleagues and friends to investigate how we can care for each other. The cast only ever exposed the problems in a few of the many filing cabinets on stage. The nightmare is what was in the rest. One that gets opened exposes audio of a child’s voice, a crowd noise, an orgasmic woman. The sound throughout is fantastic. Moves set off sirens and red lights.
So much gets touched at some primal level. At one point, I shuddered, and looked over my right shoulder, feeling I saw my mother, who died in 1995, with severe mental problems after a stroke. Something in it touched that off.
A truly important theatrical experience.
Free! With nice pictures.