Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Cutting the Cord

Flying Eye creative team
Flying Eye
Tristan Bates Theatre
(2011)

Cutting the Cord production photo

Alternative theatre leaves many people cold. Whilst some can talk for hours about the meaning of a hand gesture, others are left feeling confused and ignorant by inaccessible artistic images and seemingly meaningless dialogue. Yet sometimes a company can get it right. Flying Eye's production of Cutting the Cord asks without challenging and is a poetic exploration of building a home away from home.

"Where do you come from and where are you going?" are the questions immediately asked by Cutting the Cord. Audience members answer the questions to a box before entering the theatre, then stand on the stage ready for the first fifteen minutes of promenade.

Sachi Kimura, a tiny Japanese lady, enters the group, smiling, laughing, asking questions and exuding a kind of bumbling happiness. She's from Tokyo and has been living in Britain. When she brings out a practice book for the British Citizen test, the audience groan quietly, knowing that Sachi probably knows more about our country than we do. When was the first British census? Fortunately, we're on more even ground with the Mother's Day question: c) we give cards and presents to our mothers, not a) have a lovely meal cooked by our mothers or d) have a fireworks display.

Sachi is charming and sincere as she takes us through the difficulties of living away from home. Often funny, she describes her first flat and a party she doesn't fit in to. Dresses on hangers drop from the ceiling to be her party guests and chalk outlines on the wall represent her home.

Although it is a solo show, backed up by musician Daniel Marcus Clark, it is as much director Matt Spencer's and lighting designer Kristina Hjelm's show as it is Sachi's: much of the character of the show comes from the innovations in set and props and in the way we don't notice they're there until we're meant to. In the open, empty space of the black box theatre, Sachi seems to pull set and props out of nowhere.

The show is well done, flowing seamlessly as it gently takes us by the hand and asks us what it means to belong somewhere. From the gossiping with tea shop lady to learning how to say "Oh my God!", Sachi, tries to pick up the small nuances we don't notice, but mean that we belong. It's not earth shattering, but it is very thought-provoking and strangely soothing.

It is alternative theatre without grandeur or pomposity. The audience is invited in and made comfortable, not confused and challenged by overly ambiguous dialogue and images. Clever, calm and touching, Cutting the Cord asks questions without demanding answers.

Reviewer: Emma Berge