Old Rep, Birmingham


Out of Inc and Scribbled Thought describe this a dance theatre show, but as none of the performers are dancers and all are actors, it is probably better described as physical theatre.

This is a devised performance directed and conceived by Sinéad Rushe looking at how ‘gravity shapes us’.

At times violent, it is lyrical and thought provoking enhanced by an evocative, original sound score by Lex Kosanke and lighting by Colin Grenfell. Performers use minimal props - sandbags, wooden planks and pulleys - to explore how bodies learn to bear loads and the effects of stress and strain both in a physical sense but also an emotional sense.

The physicality is visibly strenuous and exhausting to the actors who perform with great aptitude and strength. Choreography is interesting and despite the lack of dance training the actors performed it with fluidity and skill.

Dialogue, or text as it is better described, is minimal and researched from the theory, writings and art of various scientists, philosophers and artists such as Newton, Bill Bryson and Leonardo da Vinci.

It does add some depth to the piece but does not tell a story. The concept is to concentrate on the burden of weight rather than build a storyline or character development. This results in a series of contemporary thought provoking scenes detailed with motion and movement with no specific conclusion or ending. The physical representation of the psychological and emotional effects of grief, death and depression.

While exploring weight, mass, resistance, traction, gravity and weightlessness the performers push, pull, carry, roll and haul themselves and props around the stage with never ending energy and stamina, making patterns of intertwined bodies in a creative and sometimes precarious manner. Cast Rose Riley, Gabriele Lombardo, Mathias Asplund, Sophie Dessauer and Rachel Leah-Hosker are truly remarkable.

Interestingly there was an absence of audience reaction and they remained very quiet, for the most part. Concentration is key to appreciating this production. Although captivating in parts, often movements were overly repetitive and sections did become tedious. Although expertly performed, it is not a light and fluffy production. It is heavy and loaded with conceptual ideas that some audiences may struggle to interpret. This is definitely a production for the deep thinkers and connoisseurs of physical and dance theatre.

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith


Scribbled Thought 

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