Devised by: The Company
Reviewer: Luke Walker
The Public Reviews Rating:
“Earlier on today apparently a woman rang the BBC and said that she had heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t”. These infamous words uttered by Michael Fish in 1987 have gone down in faux pas history as the tremendous winds on the night of 15th October 1987 resulted in nineteen fatalities and unprecedented widespread damage. Almost exactly twenty-five years later, this ‘Great Storm’ is the topic of Idle Motion’s clever piece of devised theatre.
The company works entirely collaboratively in the making of their shows. Hence, there is no credit to a specific writer or director in the programme. The six performers work as an ensemble throughout the piece to create some visually stunning and beautiful imagery, transforming simple props and projecting images and pieces of news footage onto umbrellas and a tarpaulin backdrop. The cast are slick and well choreographed in what they do as they stay onstage throughout, either being in a scene or facilitating its theatricality in some way. And it is this theatricality where this show succeeds.
We are told that this is a story about the weather – about the night when Britain’s dull grey drizzle was interrupted by a global weather system landing in the south-east of England. However, more than this, we are told by the narrator, played by Grace Chapman, that this is a story of the what-ifs in life, the mundane decisions we constantly make and, ultimately, their magnifying repercussions. A flap of a seagull’s wing on one side of the globe can create giant-sized weather phenomenons on the other. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing as we forever fall into the future. All of this cerebral and thought-provoking stuff really gets the grey matter going.
Unfortunately, what is gained with inventive storytelling techniques and stimulating subject matter is sadly wasted by the lack of any real story. There is no hook for the audience to explore the themes of the play on an emotional level. As three of the actors are characterless ensemble players our only thread of story is served by Joel Gatehouse and Kate Stanley who play Man and Woman. The night of the storm may perhaps rekindle their lost relationship. But none of this matters to an audience who know nothing about these characters.
Idle Motion is a young company with the desire to devise all their own material at their core – an impressive ambition. And for the most part they succeed in keeping their audience interested with high production values and artful visual imagery. But any piece of theatre that doesn’t want to stray into the realm of performance art needs a heart, a soul and a story. A definite victim of too much style over substance which is a shame.