EFR - Reviews of Journeys

Journeys

Mon 8th – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Naoise Murphy

at 09:36 on 25th Aug 2016

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Not quite knowing what to expect from this vaguely-named physical comedy, I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Journeys.’ Buckle Up Theatre have created a charming and accomplished piece of work.

The show follows four passengers on a train journey, each fleeing something in wartime Europe: Pierre, a Parisian artiste; Conchita, a Spanish mother; Marco, a disgraced Italian soldier; and Lola, an English ‘actress’. We learn their stories in hilarious and often quite moving clown sketches which expose their reasons for leaving home. The four actors – Genevieve Dunne, Andrew Hollingworth, Rob Taylor-Hastings and Rosie Ward – play a huge number of characters, successfully distinguishing each one through carefully constructed physicality.

Costumes also help with this differentiation, and firmly locate the piece in Europe in the 1940s. One of the most impressive elements of the production was the use of suitcases and folding chairs to create any number of props and sets – we see a boat, a battlefield, an artist’s studio, a dressing room, and much more. The movement of these pieces of set also reveals how perfectly put together this production is, with all of the actors moving seamlessly together in a skilfully choreographed way. Projected images are used effectively to add notes of seriousness, showing the war-torn landscape through which they travel. Music is used to great effect, keeping the pace at frantic levels throughout.

One minor complaint is that the opening scene is a little too long. It does nothing to advance the plot and serves rather to make the audience worry that the entire piece will be aimless physical comedy. Once the characters become individually defined, and it is clear where they are and what they are doing, the performance improves, from the audience’s point of view. The ‘waiting for the train’ scene adds some great variety to an otherwise constantly moving production. Other highlights are the ‘broken down car’ scene, featuring the business-like Conchita and the hapless Pierre, Lola’s interrupted romantic boat trip and Marco’s story (there are audible gasps from the audience during this one).

Sound and lighting work seamlessly, evoking the journey with train sounds and muffled loudspeaker announcements. They combine beautifully with the projections for the final moments, a calmer, more stripped-back seaside scene complete with perfectly chosen music.

‘Journeys’ oscillates between silliness and poignancy. For anyone looking for physical comedy and some great storytelling, it is definitely worth your time.

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Caragh Aylett

at 17:40 on 25th Aug 2016

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This latest offering from ‘Buckle Up Theatre’, explores the theme of journeys. We are invited into the lives of four men and women who must leave behind their previous lives for many different reasons. With their animated physicality and energetic sequences, this physical theatre company do not disappoint.

The piece begins with such high energy that I assume cannot be maintained, fortunately I am wrong. The opening sequence is accompanied by five suitcases which are swiftly moved by the cast to create an elaborate and endearing piece. These suitcases quickly become various other props, from wheels to train windows. Indeed, the extent of the set and props is limited to an exceptionally clever use of four folding chairs and four suitcases. The intricate way in which these are used creates various pieces of set such as an easel or a bicycle. It is interesting, clever and hugely aids the impressive style of the performance.

At times their caricatured characters are childish and you may be forgiven for thinking this play is for the younger ones. However, with its undertones of murder, war and prostitution it is certainly not solely for children. Indeed, in places the piece shifts to become slightly darker. In their 1930s dress and carrying suitcases, the four actors do not appear dissimilar to images of passengers arriving at Nazi death camps; indeed, this is where we travel with the characters. The use of projection to show the entrance of Auschwitz-Birkenau is a hauntingly poignant section of the piece, with the elaborate character development which comes earlier; we are quickly reminded of the complex array of individuals that stood at that particular station. The cast’s silence and frozen image at this point is a subtle and worthy display of respect. This section is then beautifully contrasted with the culmination of the piece, the misfit passengers arriving at a beach and paddling for the first time. Again, projection aids this scene and is, suitably, the only use of colour in the piece. With the dark undertones of the piece, this happy ending is a welcomed and fitting end.

‘Journeys’ is a flawlessly acted piece of physical theatre. In places it is hauntingly beautiful and moving but this is perfectly coupled with comical caricatures and slapstick style comedy. ‘Buckle Up Theatre’ intricately combine many ideas and have created a truly impressive piece of theatre.

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