At the heart of Massive Theatre Company's latest ensemble piece is a shockingly real recollection of date rape, delivered in haunting unison by a chorus five young woman.
It is a powerful moment full of dramatic potential that is never fully realised as the multi-strand narrative spins away to present fragments of an inter-generational saga, along with a story about a cheetah's escape from the zoo and poetic reflections on the night sky. This kind of non-linear narrative has become a trade mark of Massive Company with its commitment to collaborative processes and the methods of '80s-style physical theatre.
Sightings pulls together creative input from three writers, two directors and a five woman cast who supply the original story ideas. The group ethos pays dividends in generating powerfully emotional performances but is less successful in terms of building dramatic momentum and maintaining audience engagement.
An authentic youth voice comes through most clearly as the young actors throw themselves into the joyous abandon of nightclub dancing. Celeste De-Freitas delivers a wonderfully idiosyncratic monologue on her whale phobia which includes a hilariously appeal to mammalian solidarity as she tries to ward off a nightmarish vision of being squashed by a malevolent leviathan.
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Michael McCabe's set design creates the impression of a meadow filled with fallen leaves and the effect is well supported by Jane Hakaraia's lighting which highlights showers of falling paper and underlines the melancholic mood of the piece. The direction by Kura Forrester and Sam Scott puts the emphasis on highly theatrical delivery and energetic use of stylised gestures to express emotion.
The non-naturalistic style makes it difficult for the actors to build a connection with the audience though Akinehi Munroe elicits a sympathetic response with a clearly articulated display of heartfelt emotion.
Where & When: Loft at Q Theatre, until Saturday
Reviewed by: Paul Simei-Barton