North WestReview

Ockram’s Razor: This Time – The Lowry, Salford

Directors: Charlotte Mooney & Alex Harvey

Reviewer: Jay Nuttall

The examination of the inter-generational is the driving force of Ockram’s Razor’s new show. A company specifically interested in aerial work their shows lie somewhere between physical theatre and circus with simplicity running through its core. This Time is a piece that wants to explore different ages, bodies, and the idea of segregation as well a co-operation between bodies and minds of mixed generations.

The show is executed by four performers: husband and wife, founder members of Ockram’s Razor and directors of the show, Charlotte Mooney and Alex Harvey – around 40 years of age; Lee Carter – 60 years old; and Faith Fahy – just 13. It is an exciting prospect to see four bodies of differing ages performing a piece, genuinely, about the relationship age plays with strength, wisdom and agility within the physical form. The opening ten minutes exemplify all that the creative team want this show to exude: a mix of aerial arts as bodies twist and turn, soar up high and rely on the strength of others to keep them ‘afloat’ and balanced. The visual metaphor is as clear and precise as the performers onstage. It is beautifully hypnotic to watch also.

The piece then moves into mixing memory and form. Performers, with the exception of Faith Fahy, begin to confide seemingly autobiographical memories. This is when the show begins to become unclear. The separation of the verbal and the visual becomes a juxtaposition that complements neither. The snippets of life story bookend the physical pieces and the connections between the two feel distant, as becomes the connection to the audience.

The sparse set is an aerial frame that is, at times, acts as an invisible mirror the performers stare through either to an older or younger body. The back of the stage is mirrored which is effective in allowing the audience to see the shapes and forms the performers create from all angles. However, the stage is so dimly side lit the show becomes a vision of bodies in a void of darkness. This may be an intentional lighting choice. However, as the show has such a slow and gentle pace the result can be hypnotic, soporific and somewhat like a cocoon.

There is pleasure in seeing the grace and seemingly effortlessness nature of the performers as the company’s name attests. Transfers of weight, centres of gravity and fulcrum positioning allow old to carry young and bodies to lean and rely on one another. There is a beautiful metaphor in the child stepping on the hands, feet and body of the adult-like stepping stones in one routine and the ticking hands of a clock in another.  However, This Time seems to only perform in one gear. The routine is serious and earnest. The transferral of energy and wisdom is at the heart of the piece (the directors note we often underestimate children as much as we infantilise the old) but there seems to be a lack of joy: of being young and agile; of being at the nadir of physical strength; or being older without as many responsibilities.

This Time plays a few dates over the next couple of months before a month-long residency at The Edinburgh Festival in August. It is a pleasurable piece but a gear change is needed in order to not be accused of treading the same ground for seventy minutes.

Reviewed on 13 June 2019 | Image: Contributed

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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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