Twa @ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Despite some messy moments, Twa is an interesting commentary on silence and suppression
It’s quite hard to put into words exactly what Twa is, as it features a little bit of everything. Something like a visual journal, with personal snippets from the lives of its creators thrown in, there’s spoken word, movement, poetry, the use of Greek texts, projection and live drawing.
The piece opens with the introduction of the two performers drinking glasses of red wine. One is Annie George, a theatre maker and writer turned storyteller, who shares her own text with the audience. The other is visual artist Flore Gardner, who takes her place at the back of the stage to create some live art (and, quite symbolically, doesn’t speak for the entire piece). Thier collaboration began with late night chats when the pair were flatmates and discovered a mutual desire to unapologetically tell their stories.
Twa switches quite drastically between two very different texts. There's some Greek mythology, with excerpts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses – specifically, the sections concerning the silencing of Philomela, the mythical princess of Athens who had her tongue cut out by the King before transforming into a silent dove that never sings. George parallels these extracts with events from the lives of the two storytellers that touch on loss, mental turmoil and abusive relationships. Sometimes the links between the two styles of text are a little messy, and George’s energy is slightly underpitched, but overall the themes of suppression and resistance are clear.
It’s refreshing to see two women on stage, expressing themselves and combining their different art forms. Watching Gardner doodle on the back wall is extremely therapeutic, and her drawings are hugely compelling. However, once you’ve added live projections and George’s physical storytelling, it’s easy to miss moments due to an unclear focal point. In saying that, Niroshini Thambar has created an exciting and moving score that wonderfully compliments the text without being too overwhelming.
In many ways Twa is a testimony to the creativity, strength and resilience of every woman. It’s abstract and thought-provoking at points with several unexpected moments. It’s liberating as a piece of storytelling work and achieves its aim of fighting back against silence and expressing that which cannot be said.