Leikin Loppu, Basking with Sharks

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

The piece could be a snapshot of Kosovo, Chechnya or Bosnia, or it could be an elaborate metaphor for love, but on whichever level – both if you prefer – Basking with Sharks provides absorbing food for thought.

As disparate an analysis as this may sound, Basking with Sharks is a visual feast for the mind. The story centres on a newly-wed couple who arrive home to find their house completely burnt-out. Perhaps an enemy bomb has struck? Or perhaps the bomb is metaphorical? These questions are left for us to ponder.

The action comes from the emotional tension between the bride and groom. Compelling mime and dance combine to portray the entertaining idiosyncrasies of the way a man and a woman react to, and deal with, a dilemma. While a continuous soundtrack of grand classical music helps to mirror the characters' moods, it is the shades of expression conveyed by Elizabeth Besbrode and Jason Hird that keep us rapt. Rather like a silent movie, their comically exaggerated sadness, happiness, irritation, and anger at the tragedy of losing a home, keeps irony firmly in the fore. The set is also used to droll effect. A leaking roof becomes a shower, a flickering lightbulb a recurrent in-joke; a blackened sofa, the marital bed. Using the latter, the newly-weds' consummation scene is a real highlight; a clever blend of mime and motion that brilliantly conveys the amusing extremes of intimacy.

Once or twice I felt that the actors' slapstick eyeballing at the audience detracted from the fluidity of the piece. I didn't need to be drawn into the piece over and over again. I was already there.

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This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 24