DramaLondonPhysical TheatreReview

I Occur Here – The Space, London

Directors: Malena Arcucci and Mariana Aristizabal Pardo

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

During this devised physical theatre work, a voiceover explains that there are four types of traveller: whether one is running away from something or running towards something else, merely travelling for the journey, and those for whom migration occurs more from necessity than desire.

Those four archetypes do not map exactly onto the quartet of actors on stage, each playing a character who has immigrated to London from elsewhere. The foursome start the piece by aggressively prowling the stage in a chalk circle, before angrily trying on and discarding several of the garments strewn over the stage.

Rage seems to dominate the hour-long piece’s early moments: exactly why one is unsure. When combined with rattle-paced dialogue from each character that flits between English and their own first language, it often seems that extremes of emotion are acting as character substitute, a pitfall which it seems easy for devised pieces to fall into.

There are several moments where it feels as if the cast and their fellow devisers have worked out what they want to say, and what the bursts of frenetic movement are trying to suggest, but have not quite worked out how to impart their themes to the audience. Certainly, the calmer sections of monologue that emerge give a greater insight into the respective psyches of the piece’s four characters. Interesting contrasts emerge, especially between the portrayal of some of the characters’ parents as they react to their child leaving home to move to London.

Other observations are nicely observed, if hardly groundbreaking, such as the character who arrives to earn enough money to send home, but who comes to realise that just one journey on the Tube costs as much as her weekly grocery bill used to. And the blunt starkness of a letter announcing that an application for leave to remain has been rejected, the recipient being expected to leave the country immediately, is both chilling and a part of Britain’s migration story that is insufficiently explored.

Ultimately, though, the storytelling here is too diffuse to truly illuminate.

Runs until August 18 2018 | Image: Contributed

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Diffuse storytelling

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