News From Nowhere, England

Review in Issue 19-4 | Winter 2007

We are in an art gallery. Look, it’s beautiful. Two guides, one male, one female, welcome us into the space – this clean, pure, bright, light space – and into other imagined spaces: a white-walled duplex; Southwark Cathedral; a doctor’s surgery; Guy’s Hospital; a private treatment centre in the English countryside; a hotel in an unnamed Arab country, where the female recipient of a new heart meets the ‘donor’s’ widow… everything, we learn, can be bought and sold, and if it can’t be bought it can be taken. It helps to have a rich boyfriend.

This is a story of art and culture and cultural appropriation and ‘otherness’, played out through a story of international art dealing and health tourism. It is a play in two acts. The first act, Dabbing, has a fluid structure: free movement through the space for the two actors and the audience; an ambient soundtrack that pulses then swells and drops; spoken text that has the rhythm and flow of poetry. Act 2, Wringing, shifts gear dramatically to a terrifyingly intense confrontation between the two performers (who switch back and forth between heart patient and interpreter) and the now-seated audience, who – collectively – are the wife of the deceased who ‘gave’ his heart (or had it stolen). You could hear a pin drop, such is the silence and stillness of the audience.

England is a perfectly realised amalgam of text, site and intense physical performance (from writer Tim Crouch and Hannah Ringham of Shunt collective), taking contemporary theatre into new territories that dissolve the worthless divide between new writing and physical/devised theatre – a worthy recipient of a Total Theatre Award.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-4
p. 28