Near Gone is an amusing, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking play, its story simple enough in plot, yet complex in its emotions and creative in its telling.
Two people, one speaking in Bulgarian and one in English, relate a striking incident. It is built up to, run away from, and finally reflected upon with consummate skill not only in its storytelling techniques, but also in its affective acting, particularly from Katherina Radeva, tapping – with a deep yet light touch – into the raw emotion of memories made viscerally present. Alister Lownie’s control works beautifully in translating her words, in the relationship revealed between them and in quietly reaching out to the audience towards the end.
Only one strand in the piece – Lownie’s concern for Radeva during the telling of the incident – is not fully embodied and means that a climactic moment does not ring with the truth of the rest of the performance. The discomfort that this moment is supposed to provoke was in fact created elsewhere in this particular performance by the repeated vibrations of mobile phones within the audience and the actual ringing of one, briefly halting proceedings while the performers waited with dignity.
In Summerhall’s Demonstration Room, before stained walls, visible pipes and a blackboard, with a row of bunched white carnations on either side, Radeva and Lownie create a world steeped in love and pain, where beauty and harsh loss collide, based in another country but truly recognisable to any feeling person. Every detail, rendered physically as well as verbally, adds to the piece, including the comedy over translation issues and Radeva’s insistence on Lownie reflecting her physicality as well as words. Dramatic gypsy-inspired music, including Goran Bregovic’s Kalasnjikov and Radeva’s own vocals, is integral and the repetition of dance and story-telling elements crafted magnificently.
Near Gone explores a time of hideous uncertainty beyond words connected to the greatest of losses, conveying these with both energy and subtlety and producing a performance steeped in humour, insight and real feeling. Well worth watching!
Odd days only: 1-23 August, 12:30 (13:30) @ Summerhall