Tumbling After

Fri 7th – Thu 27th August 2015


Liam Marchant

at 01:39 on 10th Aug 2015



To start with the obvious: the set of Tumbling After is dominated by two remarkably constructed beds, tilted up 75° from the floor. These two mattresses bulge with handle bars allowing for each character to slouch, climb, wiggle, and even ‘make the sweet love’ in bed, fully in view of the audience.

As the story concerns two couples whose heavenly relationships turn hellish, the beds function as parliaments for a very twisted sexual politics brimming hope, lies, and backstabbing.

From the very beginning of Tumbling After, the cast’s physicality is set slap-bang in the middle of the performance. An initial club scene is so elegantly choreographed that the audience is moved to reconsider the very parameters of movement (and sweaty dance floors, for that).

The show’s visual delights are complemented by a script chock full of quick fire dialogue as well as a considered depiction of those most primal sensations, love and lust. Gill (Kate Goodfellow) poignantly conveys the unparalleled elation of hearing ‘I love you’ reciprocated from one’s lover as ‘those beautiful words dribble down your chin’.

Gill and her neighbour Jack (Steven Laverty) simultaneously fall in love with one-night stands who are notably less set on the whole ‘love’ idea than their partners. Gretel (Marietta Melrose) responds with an amusing, albeit tragic, evasion to Jack’s declaration of adoration for her: ‘I accept being your girlfriend… we can be official on Facebook’.

More of the same comes from Peter (Robert Boulton), Gill’s protein-packing, gym instructor boyfriend who concedes he ‘doesn’t fall in love’ in the fallout of their relationship.

A jerky, aggression-packed sequence ensues after the sudden disintegration of both couple’s relationships. It is a flailing few minutes of stomps and shouts, the audience gripped with every slight twitch and flinch. The production simply nails it in giving physical representations to the most universal emotions. It even presents tasteful sex choreography, an accomplished feat.

Anyone who has sighed with angst to a Smiths or R.E.M. record will feel touched by Tumbling After. It is an honest look at love and the fragility of human connections – a delicacy often tested but almost always durable.


Beckie Rutherford

at 03:37 on 10th Aug 2015



The opening scenes of Tumbling After were refreshing and immediately funny, but it very quickly became apparent that this new performance of physical theatre, brought to life by the RedBellyBlack theatre company, is something quite exceptional.

It charts the turbulent relationship of two couples living next door to each other, and the complex intertwining of their lives is expressed creatively on a physical level and through the swift establishment of an acute emotional dynamic.

Scriptwriter Kate Goodfellow, who also plays the part of Gillian, states that her company’s aim is to combine “hard-hitting narratives and alluring performance”. Tumbling After achieved this triumphantly. Time and again I was struck by the profound realism of the dialogue, not to mention being totally seduced by each of the four characters for the full duration of the performance.

The sensitivity with which each actor embodied their own character was a true display of their formidable talent, and the chemistry between the couples was so tangible that it was truly sad to witness the romance unravel and watch resentment set in.

Within such a strong cast it was difficult to make a splash but Marietta Melrose was sensational as the feisty and impetuous Gretyl. Her sporadic interaction with the audience was masterfully witty and there were several points at which it’s safe to say that she stole the show. The men really came into their own in the second half as the vulnerability of lovable egotist Peter (Robert Boulton) and the bitterness of affable Irishman, Jack (Steven Laverty) were ruthlessly exposed.

The energy and imagination exuding from movement director Liz Williams’ choreography made me wish for about a dozen more eyes. The acrobatic sequences on the life-sized beds that were upright and angled towards the audience were particularly arresting. The visible number of bruises covering Goodfellow and Melrose’s legs was also testament to the passion with which they commit to their roles every time they perform.

Tumbling After is likely to be one of the cleverest and most innovative shows of its genre on offer at the Fringe this summer. However its virtual avalanche of wit, anguish and inexhaustible energy can only be fully experienced by discovering it for yourself.


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