A little space is a delicately ambitious collaboration between production companies Gecko and Mind the Gap. The former explores the use of physical theatre to express motion and emotion, whereas the latter is internationally renowned for championing the inclusion of artists with learning difficulties in the world of performance art.
The premise for this particular offering is based on the intimacy of loneliness. The tag line is “Sometimes you can be in a room full of people but, still feel like you’re alone”. At some stage, if we’re honest, we’ve all be there.
The piece draws on the personal experiences of the five performers, and at times it feels as though there are more. They are all dressed in brown lab coats (think Arkwright of ‘Open all Hours’ fame). The story is told largely through non-verbal communication as cast members dance their way through what would traditionally have been spoken interactions. We primarily follow the lives of two key sets of actors: a solitary female actor and a couple over a period of several days and nights, while the remainder of the cast interject as supporting members.
The female part is the most ambiguous as she escapes into and out of rooms; sits at dinner tables and moves furniture. She’s perturbed by something but it’s never really clear what.
A couple are seen waking; brushing their teeth and dining together in happy unison. Then as the piece progresses the male becomes more and more transfixed with a ‘poltergeist-style’ TV in the corner of the room. The more he becomes consumed by the TV the less time he spends with his partner. This is all expressed through dance. The choreography has a logical progression to it and each routine convincingly denotes, the angst, newly found love, and break-ups it intends to display. There’s even a clever play within a play, the novelty of which wears a bit thin when repeated three or four times.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the evening’s performance was the original score by Dave Price. If you picture an angled stage tipping down from left to right. The backdrop walls and windows are formed from deconstructed copper piping. All the colours are muted variants on brown, grey, cream and beige. Combine this with music that can only be described from as austere as Philip Glass to where the instrumentals are upbeat renditions of tracks by the French group, Air.
The weakest part of this performance is the lack of plot. In defense of the cast, the preamble did state that their goal was to involve the audience in the storytelling process – this however allows ample opportunity for misunderstanding and frustration. It’s with this in mind that I give ‘a little space’ full marks for effort but slightly lower marks for execution.★ ★ ★
Gecko and Mind the Gap presents a little space at Home, Manchester from 12-15 February 2020.