Momentum, Tmesis / Fervent, I am Blinking

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

'Sing O Goddess,' says Homer at the start of his Iliad. In classical drama and poetry, it is to the gods that we look. What do they think of our earthly struggles? What can we learn? In Momentum's Tmesis, a White Goddess oversees the struggles of two earthlings who tussle and scrap – they can't live together in harmony yet are bereft when apart, seeking solace from the gods. In the classical 'home’ of the gods – to the rear of the stage and elevated – we find our eyes are drawn to the Goddess constantly. How is she responding? What can she be thinking? Tmesis is an unashamedly philosophical piece: inspired by Aristophanes, it investigates Plato's theory of the origin of love – the division of the perfect two-headed eight-limbed creature into the two sexes, each eternally seeking its lost other half. The theme is explored through evocative music, stylised tableaux – and most effectively through the gritty acrobalance skills of the performers. The beauty of body based circus skills in performance is that they can act as a metaphor – for 'balance', 'conflict', 'unity' or whatever – but they are also simultaneously there before our eyes in visceral, physical reality. The performers are not just 'acting’, they are ‘being’ too. This young company are all graduates of the Hope Street Physical Theatre School in Liverpool, and have been mentored and directed by Rowan Tolley. This is a carefully crafted and well executed piece of physical performance, thoughtful and refreshingly free of trickery or postmodern irony – and I look forward enthusiastically to seeing where they next take their talents.

Fervent's I am Blinking is experimental theatre in the good old-fashioned sense of the word: a theatre that shakes the bones and assaults the senses. The performance space is delineated by a boundary of strewn feathers. There are two structures made from wood, wire and paper standing in the space; they could be hutches or chicken shacks... We suspect they house something unpleasant. Under the perfectly placed Emergency Exit sign in the corner is a woman with a ball of string for a head. Three performers explode from inside the shacks. There are fights and stylised Capoeira sequences; a web of string criss-crossed across the space tied to wrists and feet; enunciated text that is a touch Gertrude Stein, or even Edith Wharton. Shades of early La Fura in the mutated-animal movement and a touch of Shunt in the attempts to engage every aspect of the space. But Fervent are very much themselves in the fantastic musical soundscape they have created – an extremely interesting mix of recorded sound (found and composed), live electric bass and guitar and an inventive use of mic'd vocal sound with sighs, throaty breaths, guttural clicks and the occasional real word emerging. And in an extraordinary coup de theatre it seemed that Fervent had somehow managed to close the road outside and import a number of large drills to provide an Einstürzende Neubaten-style background drone... The dramaturgical possibilities of sound are an under-explored area of theatre practice – and Fervent would be well advised to continue this research for future productions. Not so much 'watch' as 'listen’ to this space!

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 24