CentralDramaNorth WestReview

Into The Light – The Lowry, Salford.

Writers: Hijinx, Frantic Assembly, and Teatro La Ribalta

Directors: Scott Graham and Krista Vuori

Reviewer: Sam Lowe

Light catches our eyes. The set is made up of neon lights shaped into two doors. A portal between two worlds: on and off stage – as constructed by Tarn Aitken. It looks like something from the movie, Tron. This is an autobiographical, Physical Theatre piece about being rightfully visible and listened to, incorporating an international cast of performers with and without learning disabilities.

We live in a world of social media. With that comes a whole host of positives and negatives. We want to connect, socialise, and be validated. The Facebook likes, the Twitter retweets, and the Instagram love hearts send a dopamine hit to the brain. Our glowing mobile phone screens are addictive. Performing on stage gives a comparable experience. What happens when the performers walk onto the low-lit stage? Are they simply lit up or exposed? It is thrilling, scary, revealing, euphoric, freeing, exciting, or a bit of everything?

The autobiographical aspect of the performance illuminates itself through recorded interviews. An appropriate idea, which has been seen in a previous Frantic Assembly work, Fatherland. The performer who is being interviewed stands in a spotlight on stage while the interview plays out in the background. This is done for everyone at various points in time. It results in only scratching the surface of who these performers really are. You leave the theatre not knowing enough about them. Occasionally, some questions are leading which undermines the authenticity of their answers. Sadly, on the whole, the piece tries to be clever about its good lighting effects and there is less focus on everything else. Some transitions are not always on the mark either.

FA’s distinctive style remains in the choreography, which the performers commit to. There are lifts and partner work, with one performer responding to the creative offerings of another. A language of movement centred on opposites: push and pull, forward and back, down and up, straight and curved. The segments of story are not very clear, but it looks as though the relationship between the ensemble is being explored.

Music choice is rather odd. There are justifications surrounding the usage of particular tracks, for example, the iconic but clichéd Rocky music theme is employed to capture that forever reoccurring adrenaline when you first step across the void and onto the stage. However, overall it doesn’t work because the tone of the piece is all over the place. Is this Physical Theatre piece trying to be dramatic or is it more of a comedy? The contrast in mood is far too wide, leaving the show being unsure of itself.

Unfortunately, Into the Light feels more like an assortment of ideas and scenes, it doesn’t feel like a complete product or whole. There are times when it feels directionless. Music gets intentionally cut off at times which frustratingly spoils the mood of that moment. Sadly, Into the Light is certainly more about the style than the substance.

Reviewed on 13 March 2019. | Image: Kirsten McTernan. 

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