FLARE17: Lowry double bill

Someone Loves You Drive With Care by Tom Cassani (UK)

Tom Cassani exposes the techniques of deception, and teaches how to spot it in action. Stripping back any physical means of trickery, he works closely with the audience to explore and expose deception and truth, and the fine line between the two.

An illusionist at FLARE?  Where’s the connection with cutting edge theatre?  Indeed, there are impressive illusions and a couple of very uncomfortable acts involving sharp objects which make you wince. But what this production sets out to do is to create a very deep sense of unease.  And something else that I love, the sense that anything could happen.  You believe, when Tom takes out his contact lenses, that he’s about to hang from the ceiling by his eyelids.  Of course he doesn’t but it’s the fact that in your mind you believe he could.

There’s a lot of carefully crafted spoken word based around personal family history (true or otherwise, you’d never know in this performance), delivered in perfect menacing pitch.  There’s a focus on the eyes, with specific instructions when to open and close.  You watch the removal of contact lenses and the forcing of tears.   There’s wonderful physicality where you’re not quite sure what’s happening in front of your own eyes; possibly nothing at all.   At the end you’re left with the feeling that something has happened and you have missed it. That in the room whilst you watched Tom perform, something or someone has changed.  And that is an impressive achievement in any performance.

Breathe (Everything Is Going To Be Okay) by Alicia Jane Turner (UK)

Breathe (Everything Is Going To Be Okay) is a full body immersion of soaring strings and spiralling sound in a daringly vulnerable solo performance exploring the relationship between our bodies and minds. 

The premise of Breathe is interesting, looking at breath and anxiety.  Alicia combines her personal recordings of times when she was experiencing panic attacks, with four musical pieces for violin, and video projection.  Each element of the performance is strong in its own right.  The violin pieces are powerful, emotive and at times beautiful.  She creates impressive soundscapes especially towards the end.  The spoken word is thoughtful and deeply felt.  The video includes close up focused black and white shots of plants, her stomach moving up and down, and water.

But the whole doesn’t seem to come to more than the sum of the parts.  There’s no obvious reason why Breathe doesn’t hit the spot.  But in the end it feels more like four short movements of music linked by spoken word rather than a coherent whole.  Perhaps, there’s not enough layering of ideas.  Perhaps it feels slightly distant, that in an intimate performance we don’t know the performer well enough.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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