Writers and Performers: Bea Roberts (Infinity Pool) Nasi Voustas and Bertrand Lesca (Eurohouse)
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
A spirit of collaboration is currently occurring in Bristol where two of Bristol Ferments – an incubator for new work supported by Bristol Old Vic – recent success stories are playing at Tobacco Factory Theatres. In an era where a proliferation of hour long fringe work graces our stages while potentially splitting its audience, surely the double bill is the way of the future. In an experience economy, an hour of theatre doesn’t feel meaty enough. It’s a Big Mac instead of dinner with friends. Two pieces together though. Now we’re talking.
Infinity Pool by Bea Roberts is a work of exquisite beauty. A modern retelling of Madame Bovary told through PowerPoint, slides and a guilty pleasure playlist, it strips Flaubert’s tale of most of its narrative and focuses on its soul. Emma is a 46-year-old office worker who feels trapped in her humdrum life; one that mixes dull drives to her job on a trading estate, Facebook messages to her daughter on a gap year trip to Australia and a husband who only now sees her as someone who serves him a fish pie in front of the telly. An email flirtation that begins with a double entendre about pipes may lead to something new, to a life that she once dreamed off, not the soul crushing existence she now finds herself in.
Roberts has crafted something delicate and clever here. Without the use of actors, with no lines of spoken dialogue, without in fact any of the trappings we would normally associate with theatre, she has found a character that lives and breathes in three dimensions, someone who in an hour has become as familiar as family and whose depth of feeling are as painful as those found in Chekhov. Unlike anything out there, it’s a show that has already proven successful over the past two years. Its steam shouldn’t run out anytime soon.
We begin Eurohouse produced by Fellswoop Theatre holding hands-audience and performers alike- a union in perfect synchronicity. Bertrand Lesca (French) and Nasi Voustas (Greek) seem perfectly in tune with each other, supporting each other in holds, having fun with cheesy dance routines. The best of friends. Bertrand has plentiful supplies of M&M’s, Nasi none. No problem, there’s enough for all. Until a debt is called. ‘’Where are they?’’ ‘’I ate them.’’ ‘’Yes but where are they now’’. A sick bucket is produced, it’s time to cough up, literally. Later Bertrand strips Nasi naked piece by piece, asset by asset, all while maintaining a charming façade, cool in the face of Bertrand’s quaking shame.
As a literal representation of the injustices that have befallen the Greek people since the beginning of its economic crisis in 2008, its ideas are powerful. The anger at what has befallen a once proud country is pertinent. Yet its form occasionally lets down its ideas. It drifts at points, with a terribly baggy middle before coming back with a vengeful ending. Its politics can also feel simplistic, of bad capitalist banks and a country innocent and victimised by the big bad leaders of the EU. There is more to it than that even if it’s unarguable that its victims are the people. ‘51% youth unemployment.’ ‘35% higher suicide rate.’ A great wrong has been committed and the show deserves to be applauded for continuing the conversation.
Runs until 17 June 2017 | Image: Contributed