Sunday 24 June 2012

Borges and I - Review

New Diorama Theatre, London


Devised and presented by : Idle Motion Theatre Company
Artistic director: Paul Slater

Borges and I is an intriguing piece of visual and physical theatre, conceived by the Idle Motion troupe.

During this hour long show, the cast of 6 take us on a journey of the life of Jose Luis Borges, an Argentinian who early in the 20th century created that country’s National Library even as his vision was being cruelly taken from him through his adult life due to degenerative blindness.  This South American history story is played out in parallel with the young members of a present day Oxford book club, meeting to discuss works of contemporary literature. One member of the book club discovers first, love and then that she is going blind – and the moving skill of this play is its perceptive description of the cruelty of this disability, portrayed across two separate cultures, and separated by nearly a century

Throughout the performance the cast shift effortlessly between continents and eras. In a nice touch, the opening scene depicts a Powerpoint presentation breaking down – a sweet implication that the printed tactile text has so much more impact than the electronic media globally peddled by Apple and Microsoft.

The company’s physical movement has been meticulously planned. Using the most simple of props, and several hundred books, they evoke rain, a jet plane, a lovers’ bedroom, and hauntingly, the experience of struggling with an optician’s sight test, from the point of view of the visually impaired person.  It works, and it is poignantly painful to experience.

It is a fault of Idle Motion that no programme or even cast list was available to the audience. If this can be remedied for future performances, it will give the cast and creative team the credit they truly deserve. Whilst the ensemble as a whole are all outstanding, memorable is Sophie Cullen who portrays the modern girl succumbing to blindness. A tough act for a young performer, and she delivers it with pain and tenderness.

Only on for a week, before touring in October, this is a piece of theatre that demands to be seen.

Touring in October


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