tue 22/09/2020

C-o-n-t-a-c-t, Musidrama review - a beautifully bonkers promenade | reviews, news & interviews

C-o-n-t-a-c-t, Musidrama review - a beautifully bonkers promenade

C-o-n-t-a-c-t, Musidrama review - a beautifully bonkers promenade

Real-life theatre bounces back with this lovely meander through grief and loneliness

Genuinely magical: (l-r) Richard Heap, Chloe Gentles, Aoife Kennan, Max Gold, Katja Quist, Louis Bernard and Charles Angiama Pamela Raith

A woman sits on a bench. She’s got a song stuck in her head – she can’t remember how one of the lines ends, so it keeps going round and round. It mingles with birdsong, idle musings on whether birds look down on us (figuratively as well as literally), and worries about the strange pain in her chest. The woman’s name is Sarah (Laura White), and she’s not speaking out loud. Luckily, all of us audience members can hear what she’s thinking.

A woman sits on a bench. She’s got a song stuck in her head – she can’t remember how one of the lines ends, so it keeps going round and round. It mingles with birdsong, idle musings on whether birds look down on us (figuratively as well as literally), and worries about the strange pain in her chest. The woman’s name is Sarah (Laura White), and she’s not speaking out loud. Luckily, all of us audience members can hear what she’s thinking.

This is the conceit of the beautifully, gently bonkers C-o-n-t-a-c-t, a new promenade show from Musidrama that ran in France earlier in the year. It’s entirely silent, unless you’re following along with your headphones on the app. Or unless you’re the person who comes to sit next to Sarah: Raphael (Max Gold), her mind-reading guardian angel, naturally. Sarah needs him, even if she doesn’t realise it yet – she’s been firmly in denial since her father, a blind osteopath, died alone in his flat. We follow her as, with Raphael’s help, she moves through the next four stages of grief.

Meeting at a nondescript location makes this feel like a school trip crossed with a walking tour, but director Samuel Sené and sound designer Cyril Barbessol ensure the show itself is genuinely magical. Not even the inevitable rain can ruin the atmosphere: it adds to the sense of the supernatural. “It’s not particularly mystical,” Sarah says at one point, pretending she’s making a complaint to whichever governing body oversees guardian angels. I beg to differ. 
Charles Angiama, Katja Quist, Richard Heap, Chloe Gentles, Max Gold and Aoife Kennan in C-o-n-t-a-c-tSite-specific work can go either way, but the makers of C-o-n-t-a-c-t have married form with function in picking Monument (there are four different versions of the London show, with different pairs of actors in each). The City has always been a liminal space – stuffed to the gills during the working week, eerily empty at weekends. Most of the businesspeople are still working from home, of course, so it makes the perfect half-deserted setting. We don’t walk more than 100 metres in the 50 minutes we follow Sarah, but it still feels like an adventure.

After Raphael’s surprise entrance, you start to wonder if every passer-by is part of the show – and they are, in a way, because everyone is part of the show, knowingly or otherwise. C-o-n-t-a-c-t is about the millions of connections between us, and how close we can still be to each other, even though we can’t touch. The text, adapted from the original French script, is uneven, but some moments, like Sarah’s description of her father’s work in the NHS, are pure poetry. Fair warning: the finale, in which Sarah finally faces up to her grief, may give you an almost-irresistible urge to hug a stranger. 

Not even the inevitable rain can ruin the atmosphere

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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