Near Gone @ Summerhall
Nine parallel pairs of white carnations frame the stage; we are warned that ‘this is a difficult story to tell.’
Duo Katherina Radeva and Alister Lownie are the two halves that collide to form Two Destination Language, a contemporary theatre company who traverse the boards of art, theatre and all that’s in between. Winner of the 2013 Pulse Ipswich Suitcase Prize, Near Gone is a poetic narrative that explores the complexities of a tragedy – and the incapability to articulate it.
Radeva’s story is autobiographical and she tells it with chronological precision, carefully building the narrative by utilizing both speech and movement. She addresses her audience in Bulgarian. Lownie stands beside her, a taller mirror image. Translating Radeva’s words and actions with mimetic rigor he is a mélange of compliance and reluctance, adding light to the otherwise tense anecdote. It emerges that Radeva’s sister was involved in an accident – and the details are clearly difficult to divulge.
The dialogue is repeatedly interspersed with gypsy inspired music and Radeva removes her shoes in cyclical sequence as the opening bars resound. Lownie reluctantly hands her two bouquets of carnations: he knows what is to come. Engaging in a furious dance routine that results in a carnation strewn stage and a breathless Redeva, the Bulgarian attempts to disregard language and use her body as a platform of expression – but her attempts are futile, and her movement and expression ache with desperation.
It is a poignant piece of theatre, visual and visceral with an intensity that gathers momentum at an expertly pitched pace. As audience members we are forced into passivity, similarly inarticulate in our role as spectator. “Help us,” urges Lownie as the performance reaches its zenith – but how can we? Thoughtful and understated – with an unexpectedly hopeful conclusion – this is well worth an hour of your fringe time. Don’t forget to take a carnation on the way out.
Near Gone, Summerhall, Until 23 Aug
Two dates (7 and 23 Aug) will be sign interpretedhttp://festival14.summerhall.co.uk/event/near-gone/