Writer/Director: George Mann
Music: Kim Heron
Reviewer: Clare Boswell
What is fascinating about’ Theatre ad Infinitum’ is their ability to turn their extremely capable hands to a plethora of performance styles and genres. Having originally witnessed their charming mime performance ‘Behind the Mirror’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008, I was struck by their exhilarating talent and boundless on-stage energy. Since then, they have wowed audiences and critics alike with their very different, but equally as impressive, one woman-show ‘The Big Smoke’ (inspired by the work and lives of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.) In their most recent offering ‘Translunar Paradise’, ‘Theatre ad Infinitum’ have returned once again to their Jacques Lecoq- trained roots with a wordless mimed production, but is clear from the outset just how much this troupe have developed in four years.
‘Translunar Paradise’ tells the story of recently widowed William, an old man coming to terms with the loss of his lifelong companion Rose. As is often the case with grief, William doesn’t deal with his beloved wife’s death in the healthiest of ways, choosing instead to escape into a suitcase of past memories. Returning from beyond the grave, Rose revisits her widowed husband to perform one last act of love: to help him let go. ‘Theatre Ad Infinitum’ promises a journey of life, death, and enduring love in ‘Translunar Paradise’ which it certainly delivers but it also achieves so much more than this. One only had to listen to the audience sniffles throughout this production to realise that ‘Theatre ad Infinitum’ have created something very special here.
This was by no means a truly original concept – after all many theatre companies have tackled the subject of grief, but it is rare that it is done this breathtakingly well. In fact a production centred on the subject matter of grief hasn’t moved me this much since watching Complicite’s ‘A Minute too Late’. Similar to Complicite, ‘Translunar Paradise’ creates the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments here but also times when the pain experienced by these characters on stage is almost tangible.
George Mann (who also writes and directs) and Deborah Pugh are outstanding as the married couple, not only providing a master-class in mime but also creating through their wordless gestures and beautifully crafted glances a subtle and gentle portrayal of the indescribable experience of losing a loved one. Kim Heron provides an exceptional live accordion accompaniment and her beautifully dulcet tones heighten the emotional punch of this piece, but never allow it to become overly sentimental or cheapen the subject matter.
‘Translunar Paradise’ is as close to perfect as a piece of theatre can get. Every moment of this 70 minute production is truly mesmerising and I cannot recommend it highly enough.