The Collision of Things

Move to Stand
Live Theatre, Newcastle

The Collision of Things Credit: Alex Brenner
The Collision of Things Credit: Alex Brenner
The Collision of Things Credit: Alex Brenner

Neither this play’s title nor the company’s name exactly trips off the tongue but no matter. It’s a three-handed devised piece with a basically bare stage (a few chairs apart), about a young foreign London-based couple who take in a lodger and the effect this has as all three search for new lives.

The artistic director of the Brighton-based company, Martin Bonger, plays the Dutchman Yann, Merce Ribot is his (Spanish?) flatmate / partner Luciana, with Richard Keiss as Tom, the native Brit who comes to visit London for the funeral of his long-distant father and decides to stay awhile. A good platform overall from which to view the polyglot capital and its restless often rootless international inhabitants.

As you’d imagine with three young people in London, sex, jealousy and insecurity, all occasionally seen through a drug or alcohol induced haze, play their part. Director Ben Kidd makes good use of an original dramatic music score (Philippe Nash) and an array of atmospheric lighting effects (Joshua Pharo).

Martin Bonger trained at Lecoq, and the production employs physical theatre to conjure all sorts, from the frenetic nature of London to swimming in the Thames. Kidd also occasionally slows things right down with specific stylised movement that inform us just as much as dialogue might.

The three actors are on stage throughout, which means sometimes silently observing scenes in which they play no part, a technique that can bring an extra resonance.

This being the age of austerity, the cast also operates the onstage laptops to summon the soundtrack.

It’s no surprise the show has a definite Edinburgh Fringe feel because that’s where it’s heading after its eight-venue tour.

The acting’s fine, technique is good, some of the writing strikes home and all the individual parts seem to work, but I still left Live Theatre feeling a mite unfulfilled. I suspect this is to do with my own reservations about the limitations of devised work. The three cast members often define themselves in monologues (two people occasionally speaking at the same time), a tendency that leaves too little of the dramatic interaction through which character is best built.

At heart, The Collision of Things, despite its techniques, has an instinct to be a naturalistic, less stylised piece and we miss the single author’s vision which best serves such an animal. Thus the play successfully takes us so far, but no further.

Reviewer: Peter Mortimer

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