Peeping Tom – 32 Rue Vandenbranden

The latest production at HOME, 32 Rue Vandenbranden, is a piece of physical theatre produced by Peeping Tom from Belgium.  The set is covered in snow, one cabin down the left side (no. 22) and two down the right.  Behind, a dark winter sky rises the full height of the stage.

Whilst physical theatre can lack story, it creates emotional landscapes and visual excitement.  The overall feel is that we are voyeurs on a small tightly knit community.  From the programme ‘isolation leads to an unconscious world of nightmares, fears and desires’.  It is the minutiae of the lives, feelings, fears and hopes of those characters we see on stage that occupy our thoughts.  Time fractures and scenes seem to contradict each other.  There isn’t so much a plot as a feeling that we’re all rooted in this place.

The performance makes clever use of a range of techniques.  From powerful body movements, through partly choreographed dance, a particularly effective mime sequence, clowning and pure gymnastic positions, as well as effective use of voice and music, the emotional story is gradually built.  You may not be able to rationalise it, but you feel it.

Above all, it is amazing to see HOME bringing the highest quality physical theatre to Manchester.  Strong European groups have for many years produced innovative, emotionally engaging physical theatre.  I spend hours in Edinburgh every summer watching physical theatre.  To have the opportunity to see these shows in Manchester is a privilege.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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