REVIEW – Journeys Beyond

*****

By Danielle Farrow

Sitting in on this show was one of those occasions where you look around at the small audience and really, really wish there were more people here. This vibrant, skilled and passionate company – Eclipse Theatre with Wac Arts – deserve to be seen by many.

Journeys Beyond is a highly physical show, with great style, that uses dance and vocals, as well as beautifully chosen music, to explore various myths about death. The framing story, set on a pleasure beach pier, of someone who is suicidal drawn by an intriguing fortune teller into hearing tales of death is not quite as strong as the stories themselves, though it features some great characterisations. The focus of the first tale does not seem to connect with the death-seeker, about whom we learn very little, and she has some lines that seem more pretentious than well-grounded poetry, obscuring actual intentions. The performances, however, and the tales themselves rise above this vehicle for them.

As we travel to different lands, encountering tales and songs inspired by Chaucer, Dylan Thomas and the myths of various places, including ancient Egypt and South America, the young performers show a wealth of talent, both vocal and physical. They are incredibly well connected as an ensemble and fill each sound and movement fully with passion and commitment as they switch gender, become inanimate objects, embody animals and distinctly different birds, and bring each story and character to vivid, entertaining and sometimes diabolical life.

The staging is basic, with some boxes providing for performance levels, red and streaked with black. These are the main colours of the design, with the performers in black clothes and skin markings, accented by red scarves. Lighting including red and green adds appropriate atmosphere, and the whole stage area is fully filled by the performers with their striking movements, well-synced and choreographed dances and their use of voices for flowing, sharp and always pertinent sounds as well as actual song, choral and solo.

Journeys Beyond shows exactly what can be achieved by performers who match highly skilled training with a real love of performance which emanates from their every look and move. It is a production well directed in its pace, use of space, choreography and sound, with a simple yet effective design, and some fine tales to tell.

A production of passion and hard work, well honed and presented, definitely deserving of attention.

Journeys Beyond is on 4-9 August, 19:35 (20:25) @ theSpace @ Venue45

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