Contact, Manchester , 2017.  If at a subatomic level, particles behave as waves, matter can be in two places at one time, you don’t know where a particle is until you see it, and measurement affects what you see, then what happens if you imagine this at our visible, human, real world level?  Then throw in surrealist painter Magritte.  Is anything as it appears – ‘ce nest pas’ – this is not what it appears?

In 1933 Erwin Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize for his contribution to Quantum Mechanics. He theorised a box in which a cat exists as living and dead at the same time. In 1998 Reckless Sleepers built that box – and now over a decade later, they are climbing back inside.

How can it be that two events exist at the same time in different places?  Using the box they play with time and space, stretching, turning the fabric of our world in on itself.  They make observations, then try to reconstruct the events.  There is a beautiful moment when a snowstorm globe flips from inside the box to containing the box.  As the performance progresses, the environment becomes increasingly chaotic.  Actors draw, rub out, throw water, move props.  How can we see what is happening?  Is one action masking another?  Is it observation or interpretation?  What about love?  The obscured faces of Magritte’s lovers come to the fore.

Just as with follow up performance Negative Space, the cast of five play games with rules that they understand but are unclear to us.  If you’re touching a wall you’re safe.  What if you throw a book?  Pick up a hammer?  We see what we see but as in science we don’t always understand the complex rules.

What do they achieve?  Schrödinger himself set out to use a physical example – the cat – to show contradiction in a theory. Reckless Sleepers use their box to throw open the whole world of the science of Heisenberg, Bohr, Einstein and Schrödinger, juxtaposed with the art and philosophy of Magritte.  They make us question the scientific assumptions that underpin our world.  It’s deep, supremely thought provoking, chaotic and wonderful.  It’s an amazing piece of theatre.

Contact Manchester 24, 25 May 2017.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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