As part of Push Festival 2019, Babel Theatre present, as a work in progress, an original piece of contemporary theatre about how we dream and how we love.
In their own words, The Fall delves into the complex nature of everyday pressures, the pursuit of happiness and professional and social success. How far do we push to reach our goals and how much are we unwittingly pulled into the dreams of others? Looking at the social contracts we make with each other, how do they manifest in our everyday lives? What impact do they have on our mental health?
Under the direction of Joseph Lynch, with technical support from Owen Rafferty, The Fall dives into these questions and more as it blurs image, text and song together in a fast-paced dreamlike world that Simon (Robin Lyons) cleverly invites us to join as we, an almost full-house audience, partake in a visualisation game and whether you recognise it or not, we are soon immersed as we await the arrival of his girlfriend, Grace (Briony O’Callaghan).
The enthralling piece that follows combines movement, dance, text, and imagery that sees Grace’s realities merging with her dreams as an ensemble of Rachel Maffei, Sally Hendry, Lynch and Lyons play work colleagues in one moment, friends in another, whilst representing hopes & aspirations as well as fears & worries throughout, as the piece revolves around her birthday celebrations and her questioning of self and what is important to her, with a brooding mysterious figure/relative (Fern Wareham) all the time acting as her conscious, guilty or otherwise.
It's a challenging idea and one that this production brings off very well, with great use of space, darkness and light, subdued costume with an occasional shard of colour, minimal props, and subtle music, equally haunting and evocative in turn, to accompany a cast clearly well-versed in communicating through all other available mediums where language alone will not do.
It is refreshing to see a company that treats its audience as intelligent enough to decipher what is unfolding – nothing is spelled out nor does it need to be: we’ve all been through this and probably still are in one way or another since, like the action before us, we are mesmerised by the shackles life dangles around us. The power in the piece is how much it is still dancing around in my mind many hours on – truly food for thought – and whilst it was perhaps only the first act, it is self-contained and fulfilling yet leaves me wanting more: I look forward to seeing the completed work where naturally more will unravel.
Babel Theatre are a Manchester based physical theatre company that was founded in 2013 to explore and challenge the ways in which our language, our ideas and our bodies interrelate in surprising and unusual ways. Further information at https://www.babeltheatre.co.uk/
The Push Festival is HOME’s annual celebration of the best talent in the North West running 11th – 26th January 2019. Further details on this and other events at https://homemcr.org
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 21st January 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★★