Rose English, Tantamount Esperance

Review in Issue 6-3 | Autumn 1994

As we were told in the after-show chat, this piece was inspired by end of the Millenium’s incapacity to see beyond the short term, the separation of speech and action, and the beauty, eroticism and metaphor of magical illusions. In the middle of the stage, suspended on wires, was a large bank of glaring lamps, which could be raised and lowered, a dada-esque joke that grew wearisome with repetition (instead of a blackout between ‘scenes’, the audience was dazzled when the lights were raised). The action took place around this centre-piece, against a backdrop of mauve lit silver-lamé curtains. Amidst a trio of musicians, and real magicians performing their tricks, a cross-dressed Rose as the magician Tantamount Esperance, and her motley cast of characters (Imogen Grave, Epitome Plaisir, Vanitas Splendid, etc) weaved and orated. One was constantly (and deliberately) distracted from the wordy, clever-clever and generally meaningless script by the illusions, and by characters suspended on wires walking and spinning through the air. Inventive, experimental, unusual and very English, when the lamé finally dropped at the end of the evening to reveal the reality behind the illusion, the feeling was of overwhelming relief.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1994

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-3
p. 24