Translunar Paradise

The Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome


It’s possible that it could have been clever marketing or just a coincidence that the Birmingham Hippodrome choose to open its new season of performances at The Patrick Centre on the night of a super moon and eclipse, with a piece entitled Translunar Paradise.

The work is a new offering from Theatre AdInfinitum. The company formed in 2007 is an international ensemble that have been designing new works and touring them to great success, using a variety of performance styles such as mime and body movement.

Translunar Paradise features performers George Mann and Deborah Pugh who enact the wordless tale of the lifetime of two lovers William and Rose. Both now in old age Rose passes away leaving William to deal with his grief. Unable to come to terms with his separation, his days fall into a pattern of memories and imagination. Rose’s ghostly apparition from beyond the grave appears and is there to challenge and aid him to accept his life without her.

The couple use lifelike hand-held masks created by Madame Tussaud’s senior sculptor Victoria Beaton to present William and Rose in old age and then enact the couple’s youthful years as themselves.

They skilfully move between the present and past using the masks to negotiate time and the effect is mesmerising. In many ways it is a real life animation and the atmosphere is enhanced by accordionist Sophie Crawford who provides the soundtrack and sound FX.

At times Sophie interacts with holding the mask for the performers but by now you are so engrossed in the story swiftly moving from one life event to another that you barely see her presence.

What strikes you most is the moments of complete silence at times in the performance space and the audience when each happy youthful, musical moment returns to the emptiness and loneliness of the old William, left  alone now in his kitchen with nothing but his memories .

There are moments of confusion though and although they do not detract from the overall story it’s not exactly clear what some of the smaller and detailed actions are about. Perhaps it’s just me or a limitation of the craft but as there is a fair amount of mime in silence if you don’t keep up or get it then you miss an element of the story.

What works though are the big sweeping gestures, the meeting, the romance, the arguments and joy and the eventual sorrow of a life lived and lost reduced to the memories of a life of love through the eyes of a widowed partner.

Jeff Grant


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