Messages Deleted

air field collective
Dance Base

Messages Deleted

With the exception of a series of messages played from an answering service, Messages Deleted has no narrative, and yet it is engrossing. The interventions appear arbitrary and uncoordinated yet the performers are so keenly focused on the tasks they seem to have chosen at random that I find myself rivetted to the action happening in this large, white, neutral space.

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next and that’s strange and welcome in a theatre space where we can generally hazard a guess from the clues, from the tensions between characters and the sweep. Where this show is going to go seems like a great blank slate waiting to be filled in, anything can happen. And it does. The energy changes, the focus of interactions, sounds and movements seem fresh and the product of a pure and deliberate impulse. It is compelling.

Some of the members of air field collective have worked together before, other performers are new, but there is a strong sense of shared experience here as they explore sounds, shadows, configurations of objects and the live projection on the back wall individually. The show is devised, rules set within which improvisation can take place. Hence the freshness.

Things that hum and vibrate, grate and clang, found objects manufactured from different materials, plastic sheets, wooden planks, metal poles, a large white circle, an overhead projector, small electronic devices, screws and bits of paper, a car exhaust, all brought together find different uses, make shapes and noises and colours. There are slow movements, bursts of dance, fascination and attention to tiny details. It’s like watching the creative process of thinking about objects outside the boxes of everyday use. Some of it is very beautiful, some patterns, some people suddenly gelling into acts of co-creation.

All of this is captured by handheld camera and projected with a time lapse. The room expands, the action opens out, and there is a strange sense of déjà vue as we watch what has already transpired, while watching what is transpiring and know that this will transpire again in the vast new space that has opened up. This is strangely reassuring.

Objects lie still unused against a wall and one can be certain that no two performances of Messages Deleted will be the same. Yet, among all this absorption, the plaintiff and disbodied voice of the messages will remain a cry from another world.

Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher

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