Brith Gof, Dead Men’s Shoes

Review in Issue 10-1 | Spring 1998

On 17 January 1912 five men arrived at the South Pole. They had walked eight hundred miles and they got there second; beaten by a margin of one month. Written and performed by Mike Pearson, Dead Men’s Shoes is an evocation in word and image of the psychological, physical and emotional pressures of Scott’s fateful journey to the Antarctic.

Walking into the auditorium the audience sit in long rows with a huge screen which spans the whole length of the stage about two metres in front of them. Mike Pearson stands stage right wearing a white suit and dark sunglasses. During the performance he gradually travels from one side of the stage to the other, unveiling the story with descriptive and graphic poise. His hands and face are elucidatory, demanding attention as they illuminate the striking presence of the voice. Such physicality conveys a real understanding of the pain and anguish Scott and his team of explorers experienced.

Pearson’s writing skills are exemplary, combining factual and narrative information with veritable sentiment and a contemporary hard edge. Mike Brookes’ slide installation incorporates photographic images from Scott’s Antarctic expeditions and serves as indispensable visual evidence to the narrative. The performance is also accompanied by an ambient soundtrack composed by Robert Merdzo, a regular Brith Gof collaborator, which adds an enigmatic quality to the event. Dead Men’s Shoes is unequivocal, very entertaining and a verifiable learning experience.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-1
p. 26