Complicite, A Minute Too Late

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

Twenty-one years ago, Complicite were one of a small number of mime companies struggling for recognition and support. If any proof were needed of the shift that has occurred over the past two decades in what is now more usually called physical theatre, it is here tonight at the National, which is chock-a-block with bona fide jewellery-rattling 'theatre-goers'.

But on stage, it’s back to basics for Complicite, who have revived this three-man show with the original cast of Jozef Houben, Simon McBurney and Marcello Magni. What we see is a classic piece of devised theatre: a fragmented narrative that draws together a number of stories set in and around a graveyard; scene changes denoted by a chair being moved or by a character shifting into a different physical or mental space; text, physicality and a minimum of set and props combining to create a complete world that we are drawn into. Attitudes towards death and the experience of bereavement are investigated through physical comedy, Pennies-from-Heaven style bursts into song-and-dance, and wry observation. It all zips along nicely – then comes a change of pace as the beige man in the beige raincoat (McBurney) comes home, unpacks his groceries and sits. And sits... there's a shift of energy in the theatre – you could hear a pin drop. He takes a cheap photo frame from his carrier bag and slowly and carefully cuts around a photo of his dead wife so that it fits the frame. Then cuts a little more, then cuts too much. All the pathos and humour around death investigated throughout the piece exemplified in this perfect theatrical moment.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 28