John – a powerful emotional journey

It’s a cold Friday night on the tram to the Lowry theatre.  The theatre is packed.  There is an air of expectation.

DV8’s John at the Lowry is a wonderful mix of storytelling, theatre and physical theatre.  Based on verbatim recordings from a single individual, John charts one man’s journey from a violent home through fragmented relationships, drug use and prison, and finally exploring and finding himself in a gay male sauna.  It is a brutal story that charts an emotional journey that is both appalling and uplifting.

This production bridges the gap between theatre and physical theatre.  There is a powerful story at the heart, but the focus is as much on the emotional journey, and how the piece makes you feel; how you look at John’s desires in the context of your own life.  It only feels disjointed if you fail to make the emotional connection.  The performers move constantly, their bodies describing the scenes as well as the words.  All the performers are world class.

Technically this is an amazing production.  The set continuously revolves throughout, new locations perfectly set up through great use of sound, innovative lighting and small set changes.  The action moves counter rotation into the oncoming set and is incessant.  I can only imagine the time and effort to achieve the perfect timing.

I love that physical theatre is gaining larger audiences.  As with Light in the studio recently, by combining a clear, powerful story with world class physicality we can experience something that neither theatre nor pure physical theatre can do on its own.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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