DramaNorth WestReview

A Little Space – HOME, Manchester

Reviewer: Andrea Allen

Created by: Karen Bartholomew, Rich Rusk, Charli Ward and Dan Watson

A Little Space marks the first collaboration between award-winning physical theatre company Gecko and Bradford-based Mind the Gap, an organisation working alongside artists with learning disabilities to create new and challenging pieces of theatre.  

Set in a block of flats, the show is an ambitious exploration of how your own ‘little space’ can be in turn liberating and entrapping. A devised show inspired in part by the performers’ own experiences, the piece explores themes of loneliness and isolation, and on the reverse side the enjoyment of solitude. 

Rhys Jarman’s design is appropriately stark and disorientating, mirroring the brutalist aesthetic of the rabbit-warren ‘streets in the sky’ housing estates, idealistically designed to foster a sense of community yet never fulfilling this potential. The sloped stage ties in with the vertiginous sense of being unsteady and high up and the lattice of metal bars and otherwise bare stage are a cold, visceral frame for a disorientating examination of what it means to be alone.

The performance follows the lives and experiences of five distinct people, although it was only reading the production notes afterward that this became apparent. Only two narratives came through clearly during the performance, which is a shame as it would be interesting to gain a wider insight and perspective on the real-life experiences of these performers. Paul Bates gives a wonderfully energetic performance as a person trapped within four walls, their personal relationship crumbling as they sit transfixed by their television. It feels important to explore the four other narratives just as distinctly as this one, this might be the intent, but it doesn’t quite translate.

With an estimated 1 in 7 adults currently living alone in the UK, a number set to rise in the coming years, the exploration of loneliness is a pertinent one and one tackled in a unique fashion by these two companies in this ambitious debut collaboration.

Runs until 15 February 2020

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Ambitious debut collaboration

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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